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A Neo Aristotelian Essay On Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream Speech

1723 words - 7 pages

On April 24th 2014, the entertainment television channel TMZ released an audio record of a conversation between Donald Sterling, the owner of the professional basketball team Los Angeles Clippers, and his girlfriend. In the conversation, Sterling expressed his extreme racism towards the African Americans. He specifically told his girlfriend, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that… and not to bring them to my games.” Sterling’s recorded conversation immediately invoked a series of protesting reactions from a great deal of public figures within and outside the basketball field. Five days after the recording tape was released, on April 30th 2014, Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, announced that Sterling would be banned from NBA games for life, and most likely would be forced to sell the Clippers. Silver stated, “We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views. They simply have no place in the NBA.”
This story proves that even though the society’s opinion towards racism has changed dramatically for the better in the past decades, racism still exists and remains a real problem in our society today. It becomes even more important to look back into the past and re-examine the legacies of anti-racism, especially one of the most prominent anti-racist figures in history, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. He was famous for his activism in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and after his death by assasination has become an influential figure in the anti-racism movement.
On August 28, 1963, the date of the March on Washington, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King delivered his most essential speech in his career, “I Have a Dream”. The audience of this speech was everyone present at the March; however, given the speech’s location and occasion of delivery, it is probable that Dr. King might also intend to target the nation’s lawmakers in Washington. In this speech, he seeked to call for changes from both the white and black communities during the Civil Rights era, and ask for peace and harmony from both sides, instead of conflict and violence. By creatively structuring his speech to target different groups of audience, as well as implementing the rhetorical devices of pathos, ethos and logos, Dr. King successfully achieved his goals.
Foremost, Dr. King utilizes pathos heavily in his speech in order to make his audience abandon hateful feelings on the racial difference and instead turn against racism to fight for a better future. He used strong words to describe the “Negros”, such as “crippled” or “languished”. He also put in vivid visual images such as “manacles of segregation”, “chains of discrimination”, or “lonely island of poverty” to stress on the African Americans’ awful living situation. Moreover, throughout the speech, King also utilized a great deal of metaphorical expressions to make the audience realize the...

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