Martin Luther King’s inspiring speech- I Have A Dream

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I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: “For Whites Only.”* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,

I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

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 the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride. From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

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Based on the text given,

A) word list

from the word list in Antconc  software, ten most frequent words used in the text are the, of, to, and, a, be, will, that, is and we.

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But what Martin Luther was trying to say in the march on Washington DC on 28 August 1963 was mostly about:

1.      freedom which he mentioned 20 times in his speech. It is in the ranking of 12 in the word list. For example, you can see from the speech when he said

“Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!”

Freedom had been mentioned most of the time in this speech because it was what Martin Luther King was trying to fight for.

 2.      Negro (frequency 14, rank of 19th.)

“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

Negro had been mentioned for 14 times because Negro people in America had been slaves for years and they were fighting for their freedom and equality.

 3.      Ring  (frequency 12, ranking of 24th )

“Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.”

Ring had been mentioned 12 times to indicate that Martin Luther King wanted freedom to be ‘called’ together by everyone from all over America.

4.      Dream (frequency  11,ranking 26.).

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.”

Dream here was what Martin Luther King’s wishes. He dream of  freedom, equality for the Negro and also he was hoping that everyone, white and black people can become like sisters and brothers.

5.      Nation (frequency 11,ranking 27).

 

“With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

Nation implies that Martin Luther King expected the white and black people can live together in the country and America will be a great nation.

 6.      Come (frequency 10, ranking 28)

 

“And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom”

Come here means to get sense about something such as their freedom and destiny.

 7.      Every (frequency 10, ranking 29)

 

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city…”

‘Every’ brings the meaning of all together. So when Martin Luther King wished for freedom, he hoped that all together will unite to fight for it.

8.      One (frequency 10, ranking 30)

 

“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by….”

In this speech, ‘one’ refers to time. It referred to the time when  Martin Luther King hoped to achieve his dreams, and the time that the Negro still did not get their freedom.

9.      Justice (Frequency 8, ranking 39)

 

“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Justice was hard to achieve during the day. Justice was not given to the Negro so in Martin Luther King’s speech, he tried to tell the people to give  justice to all people.

10. Must (frequency 8, ranking 40)

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.”

‘Must’ had been emphasize in the speech to let people know seriously what they should do.

B) Concordance

me and my group members, Nini and Nisa had been asked to do about the phrase

“GO BACK”

 

In the speech of Martin Luther King, “go back” had been mentioned for 7 times. For example,

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

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Anaphora (repeating words at the beginning of neighbouring clauses) is a commonly used rhetorical device. Repeating the words twice sets the pattern, and further repetitions emphasize the pattern and increase the rhetorical effect.

“Go back” is repeated in six successive sentences and another one sentence, and is one of the most often cited examples of anaphora in modern rhetoric. Even in the absence of the remainder of the speech, the key phrases tell much of King’s story. Emphasis through repetition makes the phrases more memorable, and, by extension, make King’s story more memorable.

And also, if we can see his speech contains these type of speech:

  • persuasive Speech:
    A persuasive speech is written to persuade, or convince the listeners, of the validity of the speaker’s argument.
  • Inspiring / Inspirational speech:
    An Inspirational / Inspiring speech is written to persuade, or convince the listeners, that they can succeed.
  • Motivating / Motivational speech:
    A Motivating / Motivational speech is written to persuade, or convince the audience, to take action to improve.
  • Informative speech:
    An Informative speech provides interesting and useful information to increase the knowledge of the audience.
  • Tribute speech:
    A Tribute speech provides interesting and useful information, an expression of esteem, to show thanks or respect and increase the knowledge of the audience on the subject.
  • Acceptance speech:
    An Acceptance speech provides an expression of gratitude for some form of award which has been given on the basis of merit or excellence.
My references are from here: