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How does Martin Luther King make this such a memorable and effective speech

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On the 28th of August 1963, Martin Luther King – an American clergyman and one of the principal leaders of the United States civil rights movement – delivered his most memorable speech. The speech was 17 minutes long and in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination of black people. He conveys his message using many different methods such as repetition making the speech effective and memorable.

One reason why the speech is so effective is because of where it is delivered. The speech was held at the Lincoln Memorial with an audience of over 250 000 people – approximately 200 000 black people and 50 000 white people. This is ironic as he attracted thousands of black people who were supposed to be irrelevant to the centre of the city.

One of the main ways that King makes his speech so effective is through his unifying message. Throughout the speech, King refers to America as “our nation”. This suggests equality of ownership and brings all of the audience together. Another example of his unifying message which he uses is “brotherhood”. This brings him and the audience together and forms a bond between him and the audience members. King also tries to speak to the white members of the audience. One example of this is “our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today”. King is acknowledging their presence and in a way thanking them. This makes the speech effective as he mentions everybody and does not just talk exclusively to black people.

Throughout the speech, King makes subtle references to violence. An example of this is, “the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass”. The “will not” seems quite demanding and sounds quite threatening. Another example is “give us upon demand”. This suggests that they are asking for something and that they should receive it. This evokes thoughts about how they will try to get what they want.

Throughout his speech, King uses anaphora. An example of anaphora is “Now is the time” which is used when King urges the audience to seize the moment. “Now is the time” is repeated four times in the sixth paragraph, emphasizing what he is saying and showing the urgency of the moment. Another example of anaphora is the phrase “I have a dream”. King uses this to paint a picture of an integrated and unified America for his audience. The “I have a dream” makes everyone realise what America could be and gives everyone a vision to work for. The “I have a dream” phrase is also very catchy so it sticks in people’s memories.

During the speech, King makes many religious references. One example of this is, “live out the true meaning of its creed”. The word “creed” makes the phrase seem religious as it is normally used for a set of beliefs. It suggests that the nation has principles and currently they are not living the right way. King also uses extracts from the bible, for example, “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream”. That quotation that King uses in his speech is from the American version of the Holy Bible. This quotation makes justice and righteousness sound peaceful and something that everyone should be aiming for. The audience would have been familiar with these bible quotations and would have been able to relate to them. King quotes from the Bible later on in the speech, when it is at its climax. He says “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together”. One of the reasons why quotes from the bible are used is because everyone in the audience is familiar with it. This makes the speech more relatable.

Throughout King’s speech, he uses powerful imagery such as metaphors and similes. One of the metaphors used is “seared in the flames of withering injustice”. This metaphor shows that many black people have died from the injustice that they have received. The “withering” suggests dying of the injustice and as people are standing up to it, they can abolish injustice altogether. An example of a simile is “no, no, we are not satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream”. The simile means that the will not quit until injustice has been abolished. This simile is effective because it communicates the passion that King has for his expectations and how he wants them to become a powerful force that will not be stopped.

During King’s speech, he uses many symbolic phrases and ideas. For example, “little black boys and girls, holding hands with little white boys and girls”. This phrase is a symbol of King’s hope for the future generations and his hope for an equal society. The “little” children are emotive and make King connect with the audience, as children make the speech seem more personal.

Another method used by King which makes his speech effective and memorable, is his style of delivery. King makes eye contact with all sections of the audience, trying to connect with everyone, and making it seem relatable. When King is talking about his dream, he looks up as if it is in front of him, inviting others to join his dream. Whilst speaking, King pauses regularly, allowing time for the audience to think about what he is saying. King often pauses after phrases, emphasizing them and letting them hang in the air, causing them to stay in people’s memories. This is especially with his “I have a dream phrase”.

To conclude, King uses many different methods that makes his speech so effective and memorable. I think that the main method which does this is unifying him and the audience together. From his speech, you can tell he was prepared to fight for justice with everyone else for “our nation”. Whilst watching the video of his speech, you can tell how passionate he was about wanting rights not just for himself, but others all over America.

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