I Have A Dream

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Critique of “I Have a Dream” Speech

Critique Of “I Have a Dream” Speech

A. Introduction

"I Have A Dream" is a Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He gave this speech on August 28, 1963at the Historic "March on Washington" Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. In Washington in 1963, his “I Have a Dream” speech reflected the uncertainty about the Birmingham campaign recently completed; black leaders had obtained an agreement with local officials and business leaders to increase employment of blacks and to remove other racial barriers, but the agreement was not yet secured by enforceable laws. The elusive goal of enlarging employment and educational opportunities was basic to the Birmingham effort and very much on King's mind in the nation's capital.

1. Name and position of speaker

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

2. Title of speech/subject matter

“I Have a Dream”

3. Place

the Historic "March on Washington" Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

4. Date

August 28, 1963 (ww.history.com)

B. Summary of Content

King's speeches were shaped by his background, his education, and his distinctive synthesis of Gandhian nonviolence and the black religious experience. He saw himself and his message as rooted in the prophetic tradition of social criticism grounded in the eternal truths of divine revelation. Frequently, he quoted biblical passages such as “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” and echoed Christ's emphasis on preaching good news to the poor and freedom to prisoners. (ww.history.com)

The timing of the speech was significant for other reasons. Many African Americans were beginning to believe that King's philosophy of nonviolent, peaceful protest was taking too long to accomplish results. He was under challenge by younger members of the movement such as John Lewis, whose more radical speech immediately before King's that day had to be toned down at the last minute. He also faced the challenge of the emerging Black Power movement and the Nation of Islam, both of which called for more direct and forceful action against segregation. King replied to these challenges that African Americans could not “. . . satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” It was clear, however, that there was no turning the Civil Rights movement back.

C. Summary of Delivery

In key respects, King's oratory bore resemblance to the poetic expressions of African American discontent seen in Harlem Renaissance writers such as Langston Hughes and Claude McKay. Hughes's “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” was ...
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