Cultural literacy; Martin Luther King Speech


Culturalliteracy Martin Luther King Speech



Themost enduring sounds and images of Martin Luther King Junior`s lifeare from his “I have a dream speech” that was given at LincolnMemorial on 28th August 1963. An estimated number of more than250,000 people were in attendance at the monument of Lincoln. MartinLuther King was the Author of speech and Clarence Jones helped indrafting the speech (Herweck, 2010). This speech is viewed as one ofthe extremely fundamental historical and cultural moments of thetwentieth century. The key objective of this speech was to call uponthe Americans to recognize the injustices and the discrimination thatblack Americans faced. He called upon all the citizens to imposechange and collect the injustices that the nation faced (Ansbro,2009). In his speech, he inspired all Americans to work together fora fair and equality in their society.

Dr.King had the ability, power and was capable of transforming the stepsof Lincoln memorial to a monumental place that will be recognized andremembered forever. His speech educated, informed and inspired theAmericans people and the unborn generations (Collins, 2009).

Dr.King is praised as a masterpiece of rhetoric. His speech portrayed astyle of Baptist. This is evidenced from the fact that that the Kinghimself was a minister (King, 2009). Dr. King used his own ideas andwords in his speech quoting the Bible, United States Announcement ofIndependence, Emancipation proclamation and the United StatesConstitution as his reference. Dr. King explains some biblicalallusions in his speech. For instance, he quotes Psalms 30:5 in thesecond paragraph saying that in reference to get the lid of slaveryas written in the emancipation of proclamation, a day will come whenall slaves will be set free. Further, Dr. King quotes Amos 5:24 inthe tenth stanza saying that the Americans are not satisfied untiljustice flows down to them like water. He also quotes in the book ofIsaiah 40:4 claiming that he had a dream that all valleys shall beexalted (King, 2009).

Anaphorais another rhetorical element employed throughout his speech. This isa repetition of a phrase to emphasize on a particular issue. I have adream is a phrase repeated eight times. The King tries to emphasizeon the need for integration. In other instances, the King usesphrases like now is the time, with this faith, free at last, and wecan never be satisfied (Ansbro, 2009).

Thespeech “I have a dream” lays an integrative style that maintainsthe King`s message for a call to racial discrimination in America.This artifact is an influential piece of literature. Dr. Kingdelivered the speck in a brilliant fashion and portrayed an extensiveuse of metaphors by switching from reading a script to speakingextemporaneously on the second half of the speech (Schlueter, 2012).It is also ironical that on the night before the March day, thespeech was not well crafted, and the King considered it as adissatisfactory speech. He gathered few readers at Willard Hotel todiscuss what he would say. After a few minutes of discussions, heurged the leaders that he had gathered enough and excused himself togo and counsel with the Lord (Herweck, 2010). This showed theconnection between Dr. Martin`s spiritual roots and God.

Thespeech also develops various concepts that bond among themselves andare interrelated including the constitution of the promissory note,the dream of achieving racial justice and the freedom throughout thecountry (Schlueter, 2012). These concepts explain the differencebetween government promises to Americans and its failure to fulfillthese promises to black.

Theidea of Dr. King making his speech “I have a dream” in front ofthe crowd at Washington D.C is an artifact of the American dream. TheUnited States Constitution states that all are equal, but the societyhas different opinions and is shadowed by racism (Bobbitt, 2010). During the sixteenth century, segregation was common in the UnitedStates society and made it difficult for black people and immigrantsto get better jobs. Foe the blacks, their American dream wascompletely shuttered.

Dr.King acts as an artifact of a link between the white and blacks. Hisdream was that his children and their generations to come would neverface the problems of segregation. He explained to the people whatought to be done in a bid to overcome these problems. Martin couldnot believe that his dream would come to reality, but his death was awake up call to all the Americans. This dream was shared by millionsacross America (Collins, 2009).

Thespeech made the civil rights movement to appeal in a bigger sectionof the society. He demonstrated that his dream was deeply rooted inthe American dream and encouraged the black Americans to walktogether (Bobbitt, 2010). He considered himself as an American leaderwho was pursuing American dreams. Dr. King was a peaceful activist ashe backed peaceful protests warning in his speech not to degenerateto physical violence (Ansbro, 2009).

Thespeech “I have a dream” is shown to amalgamate several versionsthat were written at different times. When completing his speech,Luther diverted from his speech to preaching prompted by a blackAmerican Mahalia Jackson`s cry who shouted asking him to tell thepeople about the dream (Herweck, 2010). This dream is memorable,magnificent and soaring. It transformed and touched millions, andthis was one of the American`s historical moments.


Ansbro,J. J. (2009). MartinLuther King, Jr: Nonviolent strategies and tactics for social change.Lanham, Md: Madison Books.

Bobbitt,D. A. (2010). Therhetoric of redemption: Kenneth Burke`s redemption drama and MartinLuther King, Jr.`s &quotI have a dream&quot speech.Lanham, Md: Rowman &amp Littlefield Publishers.

Collins,O. (2009). Speechesthat changed the world.Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.

Herweck,Diana. (2010). MartinLuther King, Jr.Teacher Created Materials.

King,M. L. (2009). Letterfrom Birmingham jail: &quotI have a dream&quot speech.Logan, Iowa: Tale Blazers Perfection Learning Corp.

Schlueter,N. W. (2012). Onedream or two: Justice in America in the thought of Martin LutherKing, Jr.Lanham: Lexington Books.