Does Martin Luther King have any credible support of factual evidence/proof to support his remarks in his "I Have a Dream" speech?

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It is important here to think about the nature of moral exhortation. Philosophers distinguish "is" or factual statements from "ought" or moral statements. If one says "it is raining today," one is uttering a statement of fact. If one says "I believe that all people should be treated equally," one...

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It is important here to think about the nature of moral exhortation. Philosophers distinguish "is" or factual statements from "ought" or moral statements. If one says "it is raining today," one is uttering a statement of fact. If one says "I believe that all people should be treated equally," one is not talking about facts but about one's moral choices and what one wishes to be the case. King's speech is, to a large degree, one setting out a moral system. Although he recounts some facts in the speech, he is not speaking as a geneticist talking about levels of variation in the human genome but rather as a social reformer talking about justice and morality.

Some remarks in the speech are factual, such as his review of United States history and discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation. He gives several factual examples of discrimination and inequality but his major concern is not a discussion of facts but one in which he argues that racial inequality undermines the moral aspirations of the foundations of the United States.

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If you are asking if King offers specific statistics or research to defend his points, then the answer is no. However, one need only look at the racial realities of America in 1963, when King delivered this speech, to find proof for his claims. He talks about the poverty endured by a disproportionately high number of African Americans even one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1963, some 42% of black people were below the poverty line compared to 15% of white people. Thus, though King's approach is somewhat more poetic in nature—he uses lots of metaphors to paint vivid mental pictures of the unjust treatment and suffering that African Americans endured in this, the "land of the free"—there is no lack of evidence to support his claims of racial injustice. In short, his rhetoric relies much more on pathos than it does logos.

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In my mind, the largest and most credible part of King's speech was the idea that Civil Rights and the advancement of racial equality was part of American History.  Throughout the speech, Dr. King uses these ideas to emphasize his point.  For example, the fact of the "100 years later" is a direct reference to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, where slaves were released from bondage.  Dr. King's references to both Jefferson's Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution are also notable.  The idea of "a promissory note" being given to people of color is a passionate way of explaining how American History supports Dr. King's cause.  The idea of being able to use American historical narrative as evidence or proof of why the dream must be achieved is another notion of credibility within the speech.  In this light, Dr. King's argument gains credence as he argues that Civil Rights is nothing more than an extension of the rights upon which the nation was founded.

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