The Speech Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech in 1965 is arguably the most famous and widely recognized speech in history. At the end of the civil war in 1865, the 13th amendment to the constitution came around. This ensured the freedom of roughly four million African Americans and rendered slavery an illegal practice in the United states. The federal government was now in full control of the situation. They passed numerous pieces of civil rights legislation and held their union troops in the south. Many southern states such as Mississippi resisted Washington’s policies.
White supremacy groups such as the KKK were born. Widespread rioting ensued shortly after. The first ten years after the freedom of African Americans was known as the “Reconstruction”. They thought this period would result in prosperity and a sense of harmony between communities. However, in the mid 1870’s, federal troops departed the South. This would lead to a backwards step in progression. In the mid 1870’s, in many southern states, “Jim Crow’ laws began to be passed by local governments and councils. These were strict laws segregating African
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Americans from the white community. Some laws forbade black men from marrying white women; others classified blacks not employed by whites subject to arrest. Others created voting qualifications that kept blacks from the polls. Fast-forward 90 years, and things had little changed. Dr. King had been preaching about dreams since the 1960’s when he first gave a speech to the NAACP called “The Negro and the American Dream”. This discussed the gap between the American Dream and reality. It claimed that the white supremacists had tarnished the dream.
In addition, he claimed that the federal government’s lack of concern and falseness towards the situation. Dr. Kings reasoning behind is speech was very concise and his motivations were firm. He delivered his speech to end black isolation and try to bring the nation together as a whole. He “dreamed” about having no segregation in the population. He wanted people of different races to be Judged on the their character as a person as opposed to the color of their skin. This conveyed in the tone of his speech. Through his words and the way in which he conducted himself throughout the peech, a clear tone was portrayed.
Dr. King spoke powerfully and his word choice was very strong and authoritative. However, he did not in anyway insight hatred or violence through his words. He only wanted peace and harmony between races in the United States. Dr. Kings primary audience would be African-Americans who were racially discriminated against at the time. The goal of his speech was to support his people and stop the racial divide. A secondary audience for his speech would be white supremacists, the federal government and in the population as a whole.
Everyone ad to take responsibility for the right changes to happen. During this time there were minimal laws that would benefit or protect African Americans in the United States, certain groups would take advantage of that and exploit theses people with varylng severlty. In some states, especlally In tne soutn, “Jim laws were more widely used and were more strictly enforced. Kings tone helped add more power to his speech. King expressed his words with real emotion through his speech. This helped consolidate and already strong bond between him and his African American listeners.
He utilized the appeal pathos by displaying enormous amounts of emotion in his speeches. This was a particularly strong are of his speech, many of his listeners would have been feeling the same emotions as him. Furthermore, Dr. Luther King was the perfect candidate to give this kind of speech. He was educated and was a strong public speaker. Far more importantly however, he was an African American, this made him no different from the audience he was preaching and addressing. He experienced the prejudice and the day-to-day discrimination of him and his fellow African Americans.
This gave the listener, especially African Americans, a great reason to accept his speech and to truly feel the emotion and magnitude of his words. An area of Kings speech that I find particularly important is his repetition of certain words and phrases. For example, “Let freedom ring… ” followed by an area of the country, in particular the areas that the divide and discrimination was rife. He makes the point that once freedom “rings” out everyone will be able to Join together in unison and live freely as one.
I feel this was a very poignant and important area o he speech, it really drove home how necessary the need for change was and how it would be a group effort. It also may have inspired people in these areas and gave them the confidence to stand up and Join together. Very similarly, he repeated the phrase “l have a dream… ” multiple times before stating what his dreams contained. The dreams weren’t Just his own, they were the ones of every African American in the United States. These weren’t Just dreams, they were the changes that had to be made in order for all Americans to live as one and or the tainted past to be somewhat forgotten.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech will go down as one of the most famous speeches of all time. Even after his assassination the legacy of his speech continues today, with people constantly reading and watching video of the speech. It is still able to inspire and touch their hearts. Even the younger generations who may not have even been born at the time. This proves how effective his speech really was and how even though it addressed matters only at that time, the moral and metaphorical references are virtually timeless.