It can be stated without a doubt that Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream” is among the most memorable and outstanding speeches up to date. It touches upon such themes as race, equality, plans and dreams, repression, religion, and visions of America, all of which can be considered relevant even today.
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Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent social activist who led the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s and 60’s. Inspired by the ideologies of non-violence promoted by such historical figures as Gandhi, King spread the message of equality and social acknowledgment of injustice victims, African Americans, and low-income citizens.
King’s message in “I Have a Dream” was to demand racial justice and a diverse and integrated society. He alluded to the Bible, the United States Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address to support his argument about the necessity of American society to acknowledge the rights of minorities and underserved populations to create a diverse and strong country that would achieve success and reach the “American Dream” (“Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream Speech”). He acknowledged that his quest for equality was idealistic and ambitious to a large degree. However, King looked into the future with a positive outlook that all people in America would be considered equal.
Channel of speech refers to the “medium through which the speaker sends a message” (O’Hair et al. 6). Because King delivered his speech in front of a live audience, the channel was the air through which the sound was transferred (O’Hair et al. 6).
Only one interference with the “I Have a Dream” speech can be noted. Such interruption was the noise that the crowd made; people clapped, gasped, screamed, and cheered. While all of the sounds pointed to the specific emotions that the audience of the speech felt at that time, they interfered with the flow of the message.
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech on August 28, 1963, during the Civil Rights March in Washington, DC. Standing in front of the audience who gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, King spoke calmly to avoid provoking any kind of public disobedience that was common within the context of the Civil Rights Movement.
The audience of the speech was the crowd of 250,000 people (the most common estimate reported) who participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It is important to mention that more than 70% of the audience was made up of African Americans who came together under the banner of freedom and equality for all races.
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It is notable that the audience received King’s speech with a positive feedback; people cheered and applauded to show that they were agreeing with what the speaker was saying.
In his speech, Martin Luther King used anaphora (repeating words and sentences) to emphasize the message he wanted to spread. He used the sentence “I have a dream” eight times in order to convey to the public his desires and aspirations of America becoming a great nation in which all people, regardless of their race or social position, were equal (“Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream Speech”). Sadly, there is still an issue of injustice and inequality in American society, so King’s message and vision can be considered relevant even in 2017.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream Speech.” YouTube, uploaded by Ilya Gokadze. 2013. Web.
O’Hair, Dan. A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking. 5th ed., Macmillan Education, 2016.