Critical Essay on "I Have a Dream" Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1383 Words
Date:  2022-07-18


The greatest speech of all time, "I have a Dream," by Martin Luther King Jr. still exist as one of the strongest messages that foresaw the American future. The speech was given on August 28th, 1963 when Martin Luther King led a march to Washington, D.C. The day the speech was given is still remembered to date and exist as one of the best days in American history. Many at times when people remember the speech I have a dream, the first thing that comes to mind is the King's message pertaining civil rights and the oppression that people were going through at that particular time. The speech may also be remembered due to the King's mastery of the art of oration coupled with great prowess in both literary and rhetorical devices. The word choice matched the strength of the message, and to date, reference is still made to his speech by other great men and women of our time. For example, the former President of the United States, President Obama quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in many occasions while addressing matters pertaining diversities of origin which may lead to a divided America. His occupation of the White House also confirmed the dream the king had about one day a White and a Black receiving equal treatment. The fact that he became the first African American President confirmed that the United States had made significant steps over the past decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

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It is notable that at the time the speech was delivered there were problems of racism which had become a national crisis. The African Americans were discriminated by their Caucasian brothers and sisters, something which divided America into almost two fronts, one led by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr and other like-minded individuals during the next one by the White Supremacists. The government equally neglected the Blacks, and they had to struggle to be had. It was at this time that the Civil Rights Movement saw it wise to offer a platform to Martin Luther King Jr. and shed light on some of the challenges and the oppressions which the Black Americans were going through. The speech was, therefore, delivered for several causes. It has been argued that the speech was aimed at energizing the Black Americans not to give up in their fight against racism and violence. Martin Luther King Jr. also wanted to use the opportunity to gain support from the Civil Rights Movement considering that the speech was delivered to at least to 200,000 audiences and aired on television stations. The speech, however, political is argued to have been influenced by much eloquence, the rhetorical tropes, and schemes. There were different modes like the pathos, the ethos, and the logos which were matched to ensure that the information pertaining the oppression of the Black people was received by the relevant organs and his objective of gaining the support of the Civil Rights Movements achieved. Therefore, in discussing the speech, "I have a dream," by Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to consider the political and the literary aspect of the speech.

Politically, the speech achieved its objective by delving into the history of the American people. The speech referred to some of the important steps which were made by Abraham Lincoln in ensuring that the Africans who were enslaved were freed through the Emancipation Proclamation. In the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln played a pivotal role of balancing the interest of the White Supremacist' or the proponents on slavery while also guaranteeing freedom to the Southerners who were mainly the Black Americans as a way of leading a United Nations. Martin Luther King Jr. also brings to reality the historical grounding of racism matched with a great prowess of religion about everyone being equal before God and as was declared during the Declaration of Independence. His vivid description on the issue of inequality through ages reminds us of other prominent revolutionary leaders like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who were slave owners although at some point they appeared to seek that which may offer equality to the entire human race.

In his speech, Marti Luther King Jr. recognized that even as they face difficulties and frustrations, he had a dream of a great America. Other dreams included America rising and living out to the true meaning of its creed. He supported the dream by mentioning the self-evident truth about all men being created equal before God and by the recognition was given by the constitution. He also had a dream that at one point in the red hills of Georgia, both the sons of the former slaves and slave owners will be able to sit together in the same table of brotherhood. This showed his conviction about the future and the most anticipated change that the Black Americans were waiting. Another dream was noted about his four children who he believed will one day be judged by the content of their characters and not by the color of their skins. The two last dreams were about the state of Mississippi and that of Alabama. He noted the state of Mississippi as one which sweltered with both the heat of injustice and oppression and he believed that one day it would become an oasis of freedom where every American can proudly associate him or herself with. He also acknowledged the state of Alabama as a place where the governor's lips is constantly dripping with words interposition and nullification but he dreamt that day that the state would change to a place where little black boys and black girls will join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as brothers and sisters.

Other than the political analysis of the dream, it may also be argued rhetorically and the effects the speech had on the audience. Many literary scholars argued on the manner in which the dream employed the great use of symbolism, metaphorical imagery coupled with a very powerful diction as a way of creating an impact on the audience especially the proponents on racism and the Civil Rights Movements where Martin Luther King Jr., wanted to acquire support. The speech opened with a strong sense of diction which created both logical and emotional appeals on the audience. He started by expressing his gratitude to everyone who attended one of the greatest demonstrations in American history. The mentioning of that aspect of great attendance by itself employed the appeal of pathos. When he mentioned about the emancipation proclamation to the people, he created a logical appeal which gave hope to most of the Negro slaves who were already seared in the flames of weathering injustices.

Martin Luther King Jr. also used many instances of symbolism and metaphorical speech which was premised on explaining to the audience that equality for all races was non-negotiable. One of the instances where he employed a clear instance of symbolism, and metaphorical speech was noted when he spoke about the sacred obligation that America gave to the Africans. He spoke of the check which the Americans gave the Blacks but was returned due to the insufficiency of funds. He stated that the check symbolized an empty promise and commitment which Americans offered to the Negros community. The subsequent paragraphs of the speakers emphasized what the Africans must now do to liberate themselves. They must, however, consider to remain discipline even in their quest for justice and recognize the efforts which were being made by other whites who were in support of their quest for they were unable to reach the mountaintop alone.


In consideration of the political and literary analysis of the speech, "I have a Dream," by Martin Luther King Jr, one thing which comes out in both instances is that Martin Luther was both a great and intelligent leader. The speech is historic and can be analyzed from various dimensions. It helps in bringing the kind of steps America as a nation has made to where we are today in which Americans with African roots can also stand and be heard, and other Americans with African descents can also seek for Presidency and win. It is true that the dream has come to pass and is still coming to pass.

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Critical Essay on "I Have a Dream" Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (2022, Jul 18). Retrieved from

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