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Martin Luther King: Motivating The Audience Through A Diversity Of Appeals

1214 words - 5 pages

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most notable speeches in American history, at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King started off his famous “I Have a Dream” speech by stating the impact it would have on America’s civil rights movement: “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation” (King 1). With knowledge of rhetoric and persuasion, King had a substantial impact on the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr.’s use of ethos, pathos, and logos appeals enable King to persuade the audience to achieve equality.
Dr. King delivered his speech to a large and diverse audience. When observing photo number three on Blackboard, King’s immediate audience spanned from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, around the reflection pond, and up to the Washington Monument. Because the gathering was so large, half way between the reflection pond and the Lincoln Memorial, speakers were set up to project King’s moving words. Although the speakers set up projected King’s voice farther, it would be the media that spread his voice further. Photographers and media personnel took photos of King and the diverse crowd he addressed. The media coverage of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech expanded his audience from the people who physically attended the March on Washington to the citizens watching the event on television. With the extensive media attention, King was able to target whites that possessed the power to end racial oppression (“photo 3”).
King used an appeal to pathos, in order to persuade his viewers to aid in the quest for equality. By using the power of human emotion, King established the connection needed to persuade his audience. With the use of metaphors and biblical references, King is able to reach the emotional values shared between blacks and whites: “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice” (King 2). This quote illustrates how King targets the emotions of his audience using religious references that both blacks and whites understand. King’s quote is also an example of how he uses words or phrases with negative connotations, such as, “dark and desolate” (King 2), to describe the current oppression blacks faced. An appeal to pathos was made again when King brought up his children in the dream he envisioned: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (King 5). By putting an image of his four small children in the audience’s mind, King establishes a parental bond with white and black parents alike. In this same quote, King contrasts the innocence of youth to the persecution of the black youth. Again, King used the negative connotations attached to specific words, in order to evoke an emotional response from the audience. In...

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