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Who is the "great American" in Martin Luther King's speech? 

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frangin | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:02 AM via web

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Who is the "great American" in Martin Luther King's speech? 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:08 AM (Answer #1)

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The "great American" that Martin Luther King refers to at the beginning of his speech is Abraham Lincoln.  There are two ways that you can see this.  First, King makes an oblique reference to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  He says that it was "Five score years ago" that the "great American" lived.  This is a reference to Lincoln's phrase "four score and seven years ago" in the Gettysburg Address.  Second, King then says that what happened 100 years previous was the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  This was signed during the Civil War by President Lincoln, thus committing the Union to the idea of freeing the slaves.

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