Ethos and Logos in The "I Have a Dream" Speech

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 534 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 534|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This historic speech, which resonated with the civil rights movement and the fight against racial inequality, employed persuasive techniques such as ethos and logos to effectively communicate King's message. Ethos, or ethical appeal, establishes the credibility and trustworthiness of the speaker, while logos, or logical appeal, employs reasoning and evidence to support the argument. In this essay, we will analyze the use of ethos and logos in King's speech, exploring how these rhetorical devices contributed to the effectiveness of his message and the impact it had on the audience.

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One example of ethos in King's speech can be found in his repeated references to historical figures and events. By invoking the names of Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Declaration of Independence, he aligns himself and his cause with the great leaders and movements that fought for freedom and equality in the past. This appeal to authority establishes King's credibility as a legitimate advocate for civil rights, as well as his commitment to the principles enshrined in the nation's history. The audience, already familiar with these revered figures and their significance, would have been more inclined to trust and support King's message.

King's use of logos is evident in his logical arguments and appeals to reason throughout the speech. For instance, he presents a series of powerful statistics to highlight the injustices faced by African Americans, such as the fact that "one hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land." By providing concrete evidence of racial inequality, King appeals to the audience's logic and challenges them to recognize the urgency of the civil rights movement. This use of logos helps to strengthen his argument and convince the audience of the need for change.

In addition to employing ethos and logos individually, King skillfully combines these persuasive techniques to enhance the impact of his speech. For example, he begins his speech by acknowledging the presence of politicians and other respected figures in the audience, establishing a sense of shared purpose and credibility. He then proceeds to present logical arguments supported by evidence, reinforcing his ethos as a knowledgeable and trustworthy speaker. By intertwining these rhetorical devices, King effectively appeals to both the emotions and intellect of his audience, making his message all the more compelling and persuasive.

In conclusion, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is a masterful example of the use of ethos and logos to convey a powerful message. Through his references to historical figures, logical arguments, and appeals to reason, King establishes his credibility and reinforces his arguments for racial equality. This speech not only inspired a generation but also left a lasting impact on the fight for civil rights. By analyzing the use of ethos and logos in King's speech, we can gain a deeper understanding of the rhetorical devices employed by influential speakers and the enduring power of persuasive communication.


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- King Jr., Martin Luther. "I Have a Dream." Delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

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Ethos and Logos in the “I Have a Dream” Speech. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
“Ethos and Logos in the “I Have a Dream” Speech.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Ethos and Logos in the “I Have a Dream” Speech. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
Ethos and Logos in the “I Have a Dream” Speech [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from:
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