On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most influential speeches of all time. 250,000 people came together in Washington D.C. to support the pending civil rights legislation, and witness King's soon to be famous address. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" is filled with incredibly powerful and thought provoking words. He stresses the urgency that his people stand up immediately for their rights because, "Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood". His loud and demanding voice opens his speech by uttering the familiar words, "Five score years ago", which immediately catches the audience's attention.
King continues to convey his ideas by way of well-known phrases. For instance, he reminds everyone that our forefathers once made", [a] promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", and yet African Americans are still experiencing racial inequalities. King wisely pauses after making certain comments, allowing time for his audience to respond. The language used in the speech is impressive and is the sure sign of an educated man. The words flow easily from King's mouth, in fact, he often draws them out, and his voice often quivers with passion. His pace is slow so as to ensure everything he says is being absorbed, but not too slow by any means.
What is notable about King's vocabulary, is that although he is using eloquent phrasing, he still manages to relate everything to even the most uneducated of men. He constantly reiterates phrases so as to stress their importance; "I Have a Dream" is the most of recognized of the constantly repeated idioms. His metaphors are powerful and inspiring: "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood". King gives everyone something to strive for - a goal to reach.
Non verbally, King was able to enforce what he was saying. He begins by placing his hands with determination on the podium as he stares into the faces of the crowd. Later he raises his fist in the air to emphasize certain points. Throughout the entire speech his facial expressions match the mood of what he is saying, and the mood of the crowd.
He gets excited as he speaks as you can tell by his constantly moving head and his open mouth. People were able to relate to this speech, as well as accept it as a call for action. As journalist Betsy Aoki put it, "He articulates the longings, the hopes, the aspirations of his people in a most earnest and profound manner. He is a humble man, down to earth, honest. He has proved his commitment to Judaeo-Christian ideals. He seeks to save the nation and its soul, not just the Negro", (holiday).
All of this came through in his speech, and it is part of what made him so appealing to the people. Martin Luther King's clearly conveys his message Aoki, Betsy. Martin Luther King Jr. Nov. 1995.12 Dec. 2001.