Civil Rights Speech Rhetorical Analysis

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Civil rights is defined as the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality. The fight for civil rights was a long and difficult struggle. Many African- Americans and even whites put their lives on the line for the cause. One of the most influential leaders in this fight was Martin Luther King Jr. King was a Baptist minister and civil activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement in the 1960s. Taking inspiration from nonviolent advocates such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King sought equality for African Americans and freedom from the injustices under which they had fallen victim, through peaceful protest. Those protests include the events of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, where…show more content…
The structural layout of the speech is relatively simple. The simplicity of the speech allows it to be memorable because it is broken into three parts. Each part is recognizable by the repetition. The use of repetition is for emphasis. Repeating the same sentence multiple times hammers the point home. The first part is seen with the reiteration of the sentence “one hundred years later.” This sentence is used when he refers to the Emancipation Proclamation. The point he makes through this repetition is that despite all these acts being made toward freedom, nothing has changed. Nothing is different even after one hundred years. The second section of the speech is where he asks the question, “when will you be satisfied?” thus provoking an answer from the audience. As the audience thinks about the question he has asked, he provides his own answer, repeating “we will not be satisfied.” The effect of this repetition is that it inspires action from the audience. He presents the question as a technique to motivate the audience to strive for their satisfaction with the issue and to not rest until they have done so. This then leads to the third part of the speech, the repetition of “I Have a Dream.” By using this phrase, King causes the speech to become personal. He shows empathy and relates to the audience. When he does this, King shifts his audience from those who are gathered to America as a whole. “I Have a Dream” is a powerful sentence that was spoken on a rising upswing, not as a declining completion. When it was said over and over again, it showed people that it wasn't the end to something but the
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