Purpose of Martin Luther King's Speech

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About this sample


Words: 726 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Words: 726|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Power of Rhetoric
  2. Persuasive Appeals
  3. A Call to Action
  4. Conclusion

Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, remains etched in the annals of American history. With his memorable words that proclaimed his dream for racial equality, King aimed to inspire change, challenge unjust societal norms, and motivate Americans to strive for a more equitable future. This essay explores the purpose of King's speech, examining how his powerful rhetoric, persuasive appeals, and call to action contributed to its long-lasting impact on American society.

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The Power of Rhetoric

King was a masterful orator who recognized the power of language and its ability to inspire and galvanize a nation. His speech was carefully crafted, employing rhetorical devices such as repetition, allusion, and persuasive appeals to effectively convey his message. The repetition of key phrases like "I have a dream" imbued his words with an emotional resonance, making them memorable and impactful. By using biblical allusions, such as references to "the Promised Land" and "the mountain of despair," King tapped into the deeply rooted faith of his audience, linking the struggle for civil rights to a larger narrative of the pursuit of justice.

Furthermore, King's speech was not solely focused on the grievances of African Americans; it transcended racial boundaries and appealed to the shared values of justice and equality held by all Americans. By invoking the principles enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, he highlighted the inherent contradiction between the nation's professed ideals and the reality of racial inequality. This strategy aimed to create a sense of unity and a collective responsibility to address the prevailing injustices.

Persuasive Appeals

King's persuasive appeals were a crucial aspect of his speech, enabling him to connect with his audience on both an emotional and logical level. He skillfully employed ethos, pathos, and logos to establish credibility, evoke empathy, and present logical arguments, respectively.

Firstly, King's ethos was firmly established through his position as a respected African American leader and a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. His experiences, commitment to non-violence, and dedication to justice lent him credibility, enabling him to effectively convey his message and gain the trust and support of his audience.

Secondly, King appealed to the emotions of his audience, utilizing pathos to evoke empathy and compassion. By recounting poignant anecdotes and describing the suffering endured by African Americans, he touched the hearts of millions, evoking a powerful emotional response. This emotional connection not only fostered empathy but also motivated individuals to confront the injustices perpetuated by systemic racism.

Lastly, King employed logos, or logical appeals, to present rational arguments in support of his cause. His use of statistics, historical references, and logical reasoning underscored the urgency and necessity of achieving racial equality. By highlighting the economic, moral, and social advantages that would result from dismantling segregation, King sought to convince his audience that the fight for civil rights was not just a moral imperative but an endeavor that would benefit society as a whole.

A Call to Action

Perhaps the most significant aspect of King's speech was his call to action, urging Americans to actively engage in the struggle for equality. By emphasizing the importance of unity and solidarity, he implored his audience to join the ongoing civil rights movement. King's vision of racial equality was not a distant dream but a reality that required collective effort and unwavering commitment. His words sparked a renewed sense of activism and energized individuals to challenge the status quo, leading to significant legislative changes such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Furthermore, King's call to action extended beyond racial equality, encompassing broader issues such as the eradication of poverty, economic justice, and peace. By highlighting the interconnectedness of various social issues, he inspired individuals to engage in activism and work towards creating a more just and equitable society.

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Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement, transcending its initial impact to become one of the most revered and influential speeches in American history. Through his powerful rhetoric, persuasive appeals, and call to action, King effectively conveyed his dream of racial equality, challenging societal norms and motivating individuals to strive for a more just society. His speech serves as a timeless reminder of the power of language and the potential for transformative change when individuals come together to fight for justice and equality.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Purpose of Martin Luther King’s Speech. (2024, March 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Purpose of Martin Luther King’s Speech.” GradesFixer, 06 Mar. 2024,
Purpose of Martin Luther King’s Speech. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Purpose of Martin Luther King’s Speech [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 06 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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