Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the foreground with other people standing attentively in the background

"I Have a Dream" Speech

by Martin Luther King Jr.
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Describe the importance of Martin Luther King's powerful "I Have a Dream" speech.

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This speech, still so powerful after all these years, was delivered, symbolically, on the front steps of the Lincoln Memorial, purposely reminding viewers/listeners that it was Lincoln who, during the American Civil War had issued the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the rebellious Southern states.  King called on his theological knowledge and rhetorical skills to create a body of work that reads like poetry.  The rhythm of repeated phrases such as "I have a dream" and "We will not be satisfied" lull the reader into engagement of his ideas, almost without realizing it.  Interestingly, King largely abandoned his prepared notes as he talked, so the magnificent, musical result was largely spontaneous.

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