Rhetorical Analysis of
Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream” (Revised)
Likita M. Taylor
English 1320: Composition I
November 22, 2012
Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s Speech
“I Have a Dream”
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” These are the opening words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech”, which he predicted will be the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement and the turning point in finally ending segregation. Time and time again, his speech is credited as being “one of the most successful and most legendary speeches in United States history.”(Martin, 2010, 10 par 1). He was an astonishing, intelligent speaker who often relied on using strong rhetoric devices to get his message across. Through his articulate use of logos, pathos, and ethos, King was able to persuade his generation that "the Negro is not free.” (Martin 2001 par3). His speech became the rallying cry for civil rights and lives on to this day as a perpetual masterpiece.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born January 15, 1929. Growing up as an African American in Georgia, Martin experienced and suffered discrimination throughout his boyhood. He realized at an early age that this discrimination against black people was cruel and demoralizing. He once told of an experience he had riding a bus with his schoolteacher from Macon to Atlanta."The driver started cursing us out and calling us black sons of bitches. I decided not to move at all, but my teacher pointed out that we must obey the law. So we got up and stood in the aisle the whole ninety miles to Atlanta. It was a night I'll never forget. I don't think I have ever been so deeply angry in my life." (Martin 2009 par 6)
He attended segregated public schools and graduated at the age of fifteen. In 1948 he received a B.A. degree from Morehouse College where both his father...