Rhetorical Analysis of “I Have a Dream” (the real one this time)
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln oversaw the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. Although all black slaves were freed by this proclamation, unfortunately, the oppression towards African Americans was far from over. It wasn’t until the mid 1900’s that African Americans took a stand against this ongoing segregation and racism. Amongst all the civil rights leaders that arose during this time, MLK was arguably the most influential figure. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), thousands of African Americans, as well as many of other individuals, marched to Washington D.C. to witness the speech that many people today regard as one of the greatest speeches in history. MLK goes in depth outlining the problems with racism as he simultaneously invokes feeling of sympathy in the audience. Furthermore, through his use of various other rhetorical devices, he generates strong feelings of unity amongst audience members to bring them together as one equal group of people under God. In persuasion, emotional appeal is one of the most powerful devices a speaker can use. If a speaker can effectively force audience members to sympathize with him, they will essentially be on his side of the argument. MLK does a phenomenal job of this in his “I Have a Dream” speech. “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation….One hundred years later, the colored American is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition”. The “great American” MLK was alluding to was Abraham Lincoln; who, as I stated earlier, was the main driver behind the Emancipation Proclamation. The syntax of this quote really emphasizes the oppression that African Americans are exposed to. Words like exile, languishing, and shameful were chosen to evoke sympathy in...
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