It is important to note that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was the most profound, impactful, and monumental turning point in American history. It irreversibly shifted the United States to become more equal and less segregated, especially for African Americans. The charismatic speaker of the speech uses an inspirational style based on the parallel structure, where the content contains both intellectual and emotional elements rooted in truth and morality.
Firstly, one should be aware that the style of a speech is dependent on the traits of a speaker. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a rare individual with exceptional charisma, which played a major role in making the speech as inspiration as it is today. It is stated that “in the speech-making process both speaker and audience are of significant consideration that is who is speaking to whom in which medium” (Saghir et al., 2020, p. 6999). In other words, the speaker himself was critical in making the delivery effective.
Secondly, the parallel structure of the speech further enhanced its delivery and format. Although the speech begins with an informative tone, at its culmination, it actively uses parallelisms. For example, King states: “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’” (King, 1963, para. 17). The latter is followed by the similarly formatted statements, such as “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” (King, 1963, para. 18). In other words, the ‘I have a dream’ part initiates each section of the parallel structure, where each segment includes elements about the nation’s future by the use of ‘will,’ ‘with,’ ‘together.’ It is evident that parallelism used by Martin Luther King Jr. played a significant role in making this section of the speech powerful.
Thirdly, the speech contains elements of intellectual and emotional roots, where it provides facts alongside feelings centered around the latter. It is stated that sole reliance on one or the other is not as effective as their eloquent combinational use (Card, 2018). Thus, King uses both by, for instance, giving facts on Alabama’s racism and emotional statement on the importance of striving for unity. He states, “I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists … Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers” (King, 1963, para. 22). Therefore, reason and emotion are the two most potent tools utilized in speech.
In conclusion, the speech is ultimately transformative and effective because it is based on the foundation of truth and morality. King was a religious person who fought against oppression because it was the right thing to do with no prospect of having personal gain from such an activity, which led to his assassination. Since both truth and moral righteousness were on his side for the entirety of the movement toward civil rights and liberty, his speech was a manifestation of these foundations in the speaker’s delivery.
Card, M. M. (2018). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a dream’ speech: An exploration and analysis of personal, cultural, and collective complexes in the foundation of the dream and the life of Dr. King. Journal of Heart Centered Therapies, 21(2), 1-3. Web.
King, M. L. (1963). I have a dream. American Rhetoric. Web.
Saghir, F., Qasim, H. M., & Sibtain, M. (2020). ‘I have a dream’: An interpersonal metafunction analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. Elementary Education Online, 19(4), 6999-7014. Web.