What do you think or know about Martin Luther King's 1963 "I have a dream" speech?What do you think or know about Martin Luther King's 1963 "I have a dream" speech?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "I Have A Dream" speech delievered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on that August day in 1963 finds itself on the shelf with Washington's Farewell Address, Jefferson's Declaration and Inaugural Address, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address, F.D.R.'s Four Freedoms Speech, Kennedy's Inaugural Address and Berlin Wall Speech, and Reagan's iconic statement 'Mr.Gorbechev Tear Down That Wall'. Forgive me, for I name only a few of the greatest words ever spoken by the best that The United States has had to offer. However, Dr. King's emotional, beautiful, and honest delievery of his words that day tapped into the spiritual bloodline of ALL humanity. When I teach The Civil Rights Movement my students read the speech several times. Year after year something new is discovered. When I show the film footage of the speech without fail I am emotionally moved, as are they. Unfortunately, today popular culture and society reflects  a desensitized mentality with regard to the meaning of humanity. It has inhibited young people from expressing emotions which are necessary to understand, explain, and contemplate the meaning of who we are as a people. In a 42 minute period  Dr. King's speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial drowns my students in senistivity. When all is said and done my kids walk away understanding that when it comes to human beings it is the content of one's character that individuals must be recognized for, not the color of their skin.  

engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The speech mentioned above was a battle cry for racial reconciliation and tolerance during the turmoil of the 1960s. King uses great imagery in the portrayal of his "dream:" children walking hand in hand, the free expression of emotion, etc.

He also uses a number of poetic devices, including alliteration, assonance, repetition, and others. In referencing great documents of our founding fathers and previously impactful texts (negro spirituals, patriotic songs, etc.), King is appealing to the broadest possible audience.

This speech was intended not only for the majority of his African-American supporters, but for the country at large during a chaotic social era. And while King's suggested protest strategies were generally acts of passive resistance, the upheaval that resulted from them was severe: police actions, cultural conflict, and public unrest were all trademarks of the civil disobedience movement initiated by King and other leaders of this period. Perhaps this effect is why King and those like him were supported by the Communist Party of the 1960s.   

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Martin Luther King, Jr's speech was monumental!  It is one of the best, most prophetic speeches made by anyone, in my opinion.  It is inspiring, exciting, and important in the annals of history.  His speech involved the dreams he had for African-Americans and the rights he wanted them to have.  He also mentioned children and how both white and black children ideally should be playing together as HUMAN BEINGS.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think the speech is a rhetorical masterpiece. It is also highly influential in our history. The speech is well-known and still studied today as an example of using rhetorical and persuasive devices. What I know about this speech is that most people have not read or seen the entire speech.