20100423 ? CA372 ?I Have a Dream?: A Global Masterpiece textbook example of the art of oratory in display and operating in the public sphere probably the best-known American speech of the 20th century taught as part of English studies in China often taken out of its original context and applied to new situations much as the Declaration of Independence and other great works Occasion: August 28, 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington high point of the non-violent civil rights movement later challenged by the Black Power movement 200,000-250,000 people gathered between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument King was the final speaker ?the rhetorical achievement of a lifetime? Purpose epidictic or ceremonial speech?not in defense of a particular policy relates to legislation and societal change in general, but not directly to bring together in a single elegant statement the ideas, goals and values animating the nonviolent civil rights movement Audience Marchers those physically present one of the first times that thousands came from all over the country to gather in the capital not just blacks or whites, interracial movement reinforced their commitment to the movement, reinvigorate their faith in nonviolent protest Radio and Television live broadcast not in a time of the constant news cycle?nightly news was only 15 minutes as a result most Americans had not seen King speak before inform the nation as a whole of the principles, goals and values of the civil rights movement Content and Structure - http://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html Introduction (1) was only supposed to be 8 minutes, the Dream portion was added extemporarily and it ended up being 16 minutes, but no one complained. no need to clarify who he is or the situation, just says he?s happy to be there Address to nation as a Whole (2-8) frequent theme King used in calling to important documents in American History Emancipation Proclamation, Declaration of Independence and Constitution are fundamentals of liberty and democracy that are not being honored Emancipation Proclamation is a blank check that they have been unable to cash at the back of justice?a promissory note that has not been fulfilled same allusion to Dec. of Ind and Const. No one would deny these fundamental documents; strong argument to prove the ?exiles in their own land? status of black Americans Reaffirms the need for protest and militancy (bold nonviolent action) ?This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.? ?It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.? Address to Black Community (9-14) ?But there is something that I must say to my people? directed to blacks in particular, though still aware of the national audience Importance of maintaining the commitment to nonviolence ?Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.? ?Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.? focus on coalition with whites ?The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.? comment on Malcolm X and felt racism was a moral disease?did not believe whites were inherently racist or evil reflects principles of Gandhi as well as Christianity felt all people were capable of good and even the worst segregationist was capable of becoming an integrationist reinvigorate followers to protest when they go home ?I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.? recognizing the oppression, resistance and violence protestors have faced ?Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.? The ?Dream? (15-21) This section was added on the fly as King was caught up in the energy of the moment. He had used this theme in a speech before. Use of the Dream theme repetition of the phrase optimism of the message connection to American Dream seeking nothing more than what other Americans have as part of their birthright What is a dream? a visual phenomenon?presenting a vision like a prophet in the Old Testament?vivid visual element abstract concepts of liberty and justice required a more tangible way to get people emotionally involved?achieved through imagery the dream section of the speech transforms it into a transcendent event ?Let Freedom Ring? (22-29) uses the words of ?My Country Tis of Thee? to reinforce the ?Dream? section of the speech common strategy of black ministers evidenced as well in the cadence of the speech?particularly musical character can listen to it over and over again and hear something new, get more out of it, incredibly transcendent and moving thunderous ending ?words of the old Negro spiritual, ?Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!?? Style what makes a great symphony or painting is the artistry and composition rather than just the content?this is a work of rhetorical artistry elements of the rhetoricians art that King utilizes: Formal Language Regan and Clinton and at times Obama are often much more personal and casual King is unusual in this regard ?five score years? ?not unmindful? elevates the sentiments of the speech I the same way the Dec of Ind. elevates the issues not the phrases of everyday conversation, the phrases of an orator Metaphor and Simile jangling discord to beautiful symphony dark and desolate valley to a sunlit path gives it optimism?notwithstanding the pessimism of the history of blacks in America?the way his metaphors are structured always move from negative to positive Repetition ?Dream? ?Now is the time? ?one hundred years later? if you did this in an essay in an English class you would be marked down?repetition calls attention to itself in a written document?it is a classic tool of the orator because it links and reinforces ideas creates a cadence that gets the audience caught up in the speech part of the African American tradition in churches and speeches impact of the household King grew up in Delivery non-conversational tone Obama often strikes a conversational tone even in formal speeches uses delivery to reinforce formal language, repetition and metaphors the performance gives these elements their impact heavily rhythmic style gets the audience involved and carried away distinctly a style of the black preacher Call and Response style audience brings that to the occasion as well
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