Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a Dream"

II. Rhetorical Structure: Figures of Speech

1. Alliteration: The REPETITION of constant sounds at the beginning or in the middle of two or more adjacent words.
Allusion: A reference in a written or spoken text to another text or to some particular body of knowledge.
Metaphor: An implied comparison that does not use the word like or as-for example, “His voice was a cascade of emotion”; the most important of all the TROPES.
Simile: A type of comparison that uses the word like or as.

2. “Five score years ago,” the opening phrase of King’s speech, is an allusion to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “Four score and seven years ago…” This was an appropriate and strong way for King to begin his speech, because of the fact that he is using Lincoln as a sort of symbolism for freedom. M. L. King Jr. a strong advocate and speaker for the Civil Rights Movement, knew that he needed to make a connection with the people in order to get his message across. Referring back to Lincoln, in a way reminded the people of the fight for equality that had begun so long ago, that was still to be won.

3. Allusions to the Declaration of Independence were:
· “unalienable Rights”
· “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,”
· “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Allusions to the Bible are:
· “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
· “every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight.”
· “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

4. An Example of alliteration in King’s speech:
· “ We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of the self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating…”

5. An Example of a metaphor in King’s speech:
· “One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.”

6. An Example of a simile in King’s speech:
· This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.”

7. This is an example of a metaphor. Bringing up strong images of slavery was an effective method of moving the audience because it reminded the people that segregation and discrimination were still oppressing the Negro. Even though the chains of slavery had already been lifted, the segregation and discrimination towards the African Americans still had their iron lock on them with the Jim Crow laws. This being said, segregation was just a step of the progress made from the end of slavery.

8. Besides the famous “I have a dream” phrase, two other examples of anaphoras are:
· “Now is the time”
· “We can never be satisfied as long as…”

9. The repetition of the phrase, “I have a dream.”
· This was a way to motivate and stimulate the people to continue on with the fight for the equal rights of the Negro. This was a call to the people to make this dream become a reality, reminding them that it still was at that time nothing but a dream.
· This also made many realize that this optimistic dream was far from being reached but never impossible to accomplish. Yes, the people of this country would go through many trials and tribulations in the process of accomplishing this, but this dream was so great that nothing could outshine its greatness once it would be made from a dream into a reality.

10. King’s images that I found most powerful and appealing were the phrases of the “We can never be satisfied as long as…” The images that King portrays in this paragraph truly sank into my brain knowing that these people would not give up their fight for equality. That all sort of oppression only made them stronger and gave them motivation to persevere and never give up. When King states, “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality,” it only brought to my mind images of all the innocent Negroes that were victims of such atrocities in a nation that promised justice and freedom to all. How can such a hypocritical country, built with the idea of government on opportunity, freedom, and justice, still have the nerve to subjugate and strip the Negro of all human rights granted by God and law? King goes on saying, “We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only,” I could not help but think back to the movie “Ruby Bridges” and the much discrimination she had to face as a little girl being admitted into an all white school. To think that these people would be so ignorant and vicious towards her disregarding the fact that she is in fact a child makes me appreciate the fact that our society, even though not completely filtered of discrimination, has made some progress throughout time.

III. Understanding the Dream

1. King’s dream was the hope that someday our country would no longer be divided between races or religions. His dream was that this nation would one day come together and join hands for the better good of the country, and truly define the meaning of a “Union.” This was a hope that Abraham Lincoln’s fight for the black race would not just end with Reconstruction and that the promises of the Constitution should be granted to all of God’s children. Also, the equality of the Negro should be given not only through paper and pen, but through the close minded thoughts of a society of white supremacy. King’s dream was the motivation that the Negros needed to lift and dust themselves up from all the injustices and cruelties that this country had brought on them. It was his way of saying, “it is our time.” Indeed, it was his time; he fought for his dream to become a reality, a dream that cost him his life. In the long run, his dream is partially accomplished by the people of our times. It will take long before the next generation can look back and say, “This is no longer just a dream, it is this countries reality.”

2. Some of the specific acts of injustices against African Americans which King cites in his speech are:
· “…the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”
· “…our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.”
· “…the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.”
· “our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.”
· “Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.”

3. The American dream is basically the opportunity in American to go from rags to riches. It is to come to the land of opportunity and to make something of yourself and become something through the means of hard work and determination. It is also the ability to fully practice the rights offered by the Constitution to insure the happiness of one’s own self.

4. King names many states I think to mainly point out those states in the belt of the Deep South, which where were much of the oppression, discrimination, and segregation of the Negro was the strongest and more concentrated. This added emphasis to the importance to bring to an end to these types of actions mostly in those places, but more so all over the country.

5. I think that I truly would have been moved by King’s speech. If I were to put myself into that era and truly analyze all the sorts of injustices and inhumanities that the Negros were experiencing, I would not be able to ignore these issues and pretend as if it were not affecting me. His speech was very moving and brought chills all over my body, mind you not this was just from watching the video. Had I been one of the audiences, I probably would have wept at the words that he was expressing through his speech. The reason why King’s speech was so moving to me, was because of the fact that he was very passionate and intense in his message. He added power to his words with his voice and made sure the world was listening to him. You could see that he truly felt his words as he was reciting them to the people. His message expressed hope of one day there being freedom and justice to all. To me, hearing King’s speech and knowing that he died for his cause, only adds more to the emotions that I would have towards his message. It is very moving and motivating to continue the fight for the ongoing battle for the full equality of all people and the end to discrimination, not only in the United States, but all over the world.

IV. Relating to the Dream

1. My definition of racism is:
· The belief of a person’s superiority over another due to race. (hate)
· The injustices towards that race in their belief of their right to rule over others.

2 · I think that the extreme right-wing organizations such as the Klan chose violence as a means to fight against the civil rights movement because it was their way of intimidating and discouraging the Negros from continuing their fight for Civil Rights. Even though this brought much sympathy for the cause of the Southern blacks and it enraged the rest of the country, the Klan like always just thought of it as another way to keep the African American people oppressed and in a way, threatened.
· I think that the black community withstood such violent attacks without responding with their own violent retaliations because they probably knew that this would only add to the negative image that the country already had towards them and their cause. It would pull away supporters by making the Negros look like radicals or extremists, something that the black community could not bear or take.

3. I do believe skinheads are dangerous but to a certain extent. I feel that one day they will bring masses of people into their cause and try and take matters into their own hands. Their radical right-wing philosophies and views can be nothing more but destructing and dangerous to non-whites living in this country. They would do anything in their power to reach their means of righteousness in their own ways. How can people with such ill-minded thoughts not be considered dangerous? If Hitler was able to create such atrocities, what in the world assures us that this cannot occur once more and have history repeat itself?

4. I think that this country is only getting closer to making King’s dream a reality to this nation. We have already accomplished the citizenship to the African American, along his right to vote. Segregation institutions which were considered as “separate but equal” were once declared to be constitutional, but are no longer true. African Americans now take on white collar jobs and enroll on many of the top universities and colleges of the country. Just today, our black President Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in, when just about 50 years ago blacks were not even allowed the right to vote. The part of the dream that yet remains to be accomplished is the complete filtering of this country from the evils of discrimination. We have progressed throughout time by overcoming much of this great evil, but there is still much left to clear out.


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