For my paper I decided to choose a very moving, life changing speech that was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28,1963. Martin Luther King Juniors “I Have A Dream” speech is full of persuasive material that was intended to give African Americans their freedom, which they felt they greatly deserved. In this paper I plan on using the human nature perspective, the pathos perspective, demographic perspective, and last the use of motivational appeals. Through the use of these concepts I plan on showing how Martin Luther King Juniors speech was persuasive enough to change history.
I decided to analyze the “I Have A Dream” speech because it is a very popular speech that changed history and the way we live forever. I consider the speech to be very persuasive because it persuaded the white race to accept African Americans as a citizen to this country. It stopped the banding of “whites only” bathrooms; His speech was persuasive enough to put an end to the restaurants that allowed only people of white skin to dine there. Through his great words of wisdom, black and white children were able to “hold hands and walk as brothers and sisters.” This great man is the reason behind why today we are able to “work together, pray together, to struggle together,” and even attend this University together. He is the one who was able to persuade the white race to accept African Americans into not only are hearts but also our lives.
In our book Persuasions In The Media Age, Brocher defines persuasion as “the co- production of meaning that results when an individual or a group of individuals uses language strategies and or visual images to make audiences identify with that individual or group.” Through the use of the co-production of meaning, or better known as the sender and receiver persuasive process, King was successful in getting his message across. By delivering a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial he was able to send his message out to thousands of people. Because of the location and through the intensity of his speech he was able to reach the receiver/ audience members and get his point of “freedom” across. Through his speech, King was able to bring together the audience and create a shared reality of “freedom, rights, and peace” on earth.
Through the uses of symbols throughout Kings speech, he was able to relate ideas that every one shares to tangible objects. This is just another way he was able to persuade people to hear his words of wisdom and persuade people to take action. For example he said “ now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. By taking the symbol of quicksand he represents the sinking, decline the nation’s injustice was facing and symbolized that this nation needs to be strong, bonded, “solid rock of brotherhood”.
I feel this speech is related to myself in every aspect imaginable. If this man had not ignited a fire, delivering the words which spread the flames for freedom, then I am sure I would not have best friends who are black. Also I am sure my favorite football players would not be black. I do not feel this speech is directly targeted towards me today but I know it has definitely affected me as a 21-year-old white male who is a college student. If Kings words of wisdom had not changed the white mans beliefs, then my first roommate here at USF wouldn’t have been black. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be part of The Student Support Service program here at USF, a program that is prodimantley of black race. The Student Support Services is a program that has helped me academically as well as finically through school. Yet the best thing I have gained out of the program was the long lasting bond with many fellow students who are of the black race and also are my best friends. I feel Martin Luther King Juniors speech last can best be related to me because now I can help my best friends out as we work are way through school and someday be able to work together in the real world.
The first concept I am going to use is the human nature perspective to show how Kings speech is persuasive. I feel that this concept focuses on the true essence of human nature. It Means that we are all alike and no one is different from one another no matter the color of their hair, skin, or how much money they make. For instance the way blacks were though to be animals is an example of degrading some one, and is an example of an unethical human nature perspective. King uses the human nature perspective through out his speech to show that the black man is no different then the white man. He say’s directly in his speech that “all men are created equal”, not only coming from him but from the 1st Amendment. He feels that every man is on the same level and every man was created equally and no man should be any less then the other man. I feel King try’s to express that he should fall in under the “all men” category. Yet he still feels the segregation and discrimination form the rest of the people who fall under the same category as he does.
Another great example of the use of a human nature perspective is when King says “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Again this quote talks about the racism and how no one should be judged by the color of their skin.
The second concept I choose to use was pathos. Pathos is a way to appeal to audiences emotions. Through relating to one’s emotions a speaker such as Martin Luther King Junior was able to persuade his audience. In his speech he is trying to relate to his fellow race and appeal to their emotions they face towards discrimination. A great example of King trying to appeal to his audience’s emotion is how he says, “we cannot march alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead.” In this line of his speech he is trying to reach deep with in to grasp a hold of the emotions with in his fellow race members to take a stand and fight for the rights they deserve. The use of pathos can be seen through out his entire speech. The tone and flow of his speech are meant to “pump up” his audience and get them to take a stand and fight for justice.
The third concept I choose to use was demographics. Demographics are the divide of an audience in to groups based on one’s race, sex, age, religious belief, and income level. I feel that Kings “I Have A Dream “ speech is broken down into different demographic stages. I feel that the speech is related to African Americans because of the way he urges them throughout his speech to put an end to the prejudice they are faced with. By King using the word “Negro” he is trying to relate himself to his race, using the word is a sense of calling someone your “brother”. When King uses the words “ we must forever conduct our struggle on the high planes of dignity and discipline”, he is relating that al blacks must control their anger to win the war against racism.
The last concept I used to show how Martin Luther King Juniors speech is persuasive is the use of motivational appeals. Motivational appeals are based on ones feelings that are to target audience members emotions, values, or influence this person to act upon the subject. King’s entire “I Have A Dream” speech uses motivational appeals in it from the very first line to the last. King tries to insure the African Americans that he can be trusted and persuades his audience of their values they deserve.