Post #4: Close/Critical Reading of MLK’s “I Have a Dream”

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

After printing “I Have a Dream,” closely read it by taking notes, highlighting, and annotating. Then select a short passage of “I Have a Dream” and conduct a close/critical reading. Copy and paste the passage into a Word document and type your close/critical reading response below, and then . (Refer to the “How Do I Engage in Close Reading?” handout to guide your work.) Also, try to incorporate the video itself in your analysis, considering tone of voice, hand gestures, pauses, etc., in addition to the actual language used). Your close/critical reading must be 300-500 words (may be longer) and should be posted here by Wednesday.

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  1. Joshua Roach says:

    I Have A Dream

    Passage:
    I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

    To fully understand this passage it is important to have a basic historical background of Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the leading figure in the movement for black rights in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He preached for equality through peaceful protest. He led marches, sit-ins, and boycotts. He delivered speeches, and even went to jail all in support of black rights. Martin Luther King Jr. mentions all these southern states, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana because these states were fighting against black rights and he wanted all the people who heard his speech to spread his message of equality, which was to be reached by nonviolent actions, all over the United States, but particular, he wanted this message heard in the south.
    He begins his speech by giving tribute to those who have worked hard to be able to listen to his speech. Leading up to this speech a march took place, commonly known as the March on Washington, which was organized by black rights supporters. All these marchers ended up at the Washington Monument where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream, speech. To start the speech he is thanking all the people who showed up to listen to his speech, who participated in the march and all of those who have participated in various nonviolent protests. He acknowledges the sacrifices they have made, even pointing out that many of the protestors have spent time in prison.
    He thanks them for pushing through the hard times and standing by him. For having faith in the cause and the will to continue fighting He ends this section by encouraging all his followers to not give up, but to instead continue to spread the message of equality. That one day all their hard work, the pain they went through will be worth it. That equality will be reached and that future generations will thank them for their hard work. The crowd cheers for him after and while he delivers this part of his speech. They know that this is part of their duty and in order to get equality they most fight for it. Martin Luther King Jr. is excellent at pausing and using basic hand jesters to inspire the crowd and this section is no exception to that trend.
    This passage is similar to the general idea of the full speech. Martin Luther King Jr. is encouraging all his followers to go out and to spread the message of equality. He is telling them that this fight can and will be won. That they are fighting for a good cause and that their future generations will appreciate all that has been done for them. This speech is really a call to action or a continued action. He says go back to the slums, ghettos, different states, different areas, or where ever you go you should spread the message of equality through nonviolent means. The crowd supports him throughout his entire speech and his skills as a speaker help him convey his message successfully.

    • Ben Shenigo says:

      Passage:
      We cannot walk alone.
      And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
      We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We
      can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police
      brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel,
      cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be
      satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can
      never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood
      and robbed of their
      dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in
      Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
      No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters,
      and righteousness like a mighty stream.”¹
      I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.
      Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas
      where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by
      the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to
      work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to
      Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the
      slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be
      changed.
      Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
      Close Reading:
      I chose this excerpt from the Martin Luther Kings “I have a dream” speech because I feel that speaks to me the most about the point he is trying to get across. He starts of this excerpt by saying “We cannot walk alone.” This immediately sets the tone for the following sentences by that is a short powerful message. Throughout the rest of the excerpt his attitude is generally angry and frustrated. This can most likely be contributed to the harsh treatment and poor quality of life the African Americans had at the time. In addition to the tone of his voice and stern sentences his choice of words also proves quite successful in getting his point across. I also while I was watching his speech I particularly liked the way Dr. King emphasized this part of the speech and how he chose to say it.
      One thing that really stood out to me while I was reading the speech was when he said, “You have been the veterans of creative suffering”. This really struck me as a one of the more powerful statements because while is powerful in itself, it really describes the African Americans situation as a whole. Saying that they “veterans” of suffering perfectly explains their history in America and all that they have been through.
      I also think that Dr. Kings use of analogies to describe the oppression they are experiencing is interesting and really helps prove his overall point. Using these I feel helps paint a picture that really anyone can imagine which helped his speech emotionally move a crowd and change a country.

  2. Annie Pfisterer says:

    Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Junior Day. It is a day to remember a very important man in the movement for civil rights for blacks, and a day that should be remembered. One of the most famous speeches of all time was given by Martin Luther King Jr. and that is his “I have a dream” speech. After reading it I chose the following specific passage to do a close reading of.

    “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.”
    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.
    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of
    Injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom
    And justice.
    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.
    I have a dream today!
    I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor
    having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” one
    day right
    there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white
    boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

    I chose this part because this is probably one of the most memorable parts of the speech that he gives. This part of the passage shows the world as to what the world should become. A place of equality for everyone no matter what ones skin color is. His tone is serious and hopeful because when watching the video version of the speech it was evident how much this meant to him and hopeful he was for the future. This part of the passage has all sorts of imagery. It has imagery when it mentions how he wants little black boys and girls to be able to one day join hands with little white boys and girls. Just him saying that alone allowed for people to visualize this mental picture and see that it was an adjustment needed to be made. Also he adds words in order to further the description of something and make the image just that more vivid like when he says, “the red hill of Georgia” or “the state of Mississippi, a state weltering with the heat of injustice”. These words not only add to the speech but they allowed people to visualize the change needed to be made better. This part of the speech patterns are obviously a key factor. The fact that he keeps reiterating the fact that. “I have a dream” shows people that this is something that is hopeful to happen. Dr. King isn’t forcing people to believe with him but instead hopefully share his dream. In the video he keeps raising his hands and emphasizing certain words to keep the crowd going and get in the spirit of hopefulness of the future. This passage illuminates the hopes that he has for the future, the theme of overall necessary equality, and the larger issue at hand that is un equal rights of whites and blacks. This passage to me is the most important because I feel like it describes the most important issues at the time of everything going on. It is a good summary as to what his whole speech is about, and I feel that it is the most memorable for most people.

  3. Chelsea Rice says:

    We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This
    is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of
    gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise
    from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the
    time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
    Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
    It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering
    summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn
    of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixtythree
    is not an end, but a beginning. And those who
    hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude
    awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor
    tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt
    will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
    Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day that was the beginning of a huge change in the world that should be remembered forever. Martin Luther King Jr. helped begin the movement of equal rights for black citizens. I think that one of the most important parts of his speech was the paragraph above. In this passage above Martin Luther King Jr. explains that this change that was very much needed, needed to happen NOW. This speech explained what needed to happen in the world and what was going to happen. But without this passage telling when the movement was going to begin, these changes never would have taken place. He explains above how important and urgent that moment was and states that several times. Martin Luther King Jr. used a lot of metaphors and imagery to describe segregation and racism that took place. He described this by using terms such as “dark and desolate valley” and “quicksand”. These descriptions make one think about how bad segregation really was. Throughout the speech everyone is brought together and this is seen in this passage. Martin Luther King Jr. uses descriptions such as “brotherhood” and “God’s children” to set equality with all of the people, even of different colors. In the video, even though his voice seems firm and he talks slowly so everyone can understand him, he is enthusiastic with his actions by using gestures with his hands and arms. He also is enthusiastic and optimistic with the words throughout his speech. In the passage above he states, “Nineteen sixtythree is not an end, but a beginning.” This shows hopefulness that a change will take place and he will be sure of it. This speech is not a lecture for all the people to hear, but a reassuring dialogue for all of the people that have the same beliefs as him.

  4. Kelsey Fallon says:

    Passage:
    Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
    But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

    Close Reading:
    This passage, I would say, serves as an introduction in Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful I Have A Dream speech. He begins by saying “five score years ago” where he creates a setting. To understand this, we must first note what a “score” is. A score is equivalent to 20 years, therefore five score years is 100 years (5×20). King establishes that 100 years ago, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by a great American, this of course being an allusion to Abraham Lincoln. King expresses the powerful precedent that this document set for African Americans. He uses metaphors to signify the struggles of his people that this document stood as hope for. He compares the struggle of African Americans to that of being seared in a fire and a long dark night, of which he hopes will be broken by daybreak when they are given freedom. The next paragraph struck me as very powerful through its use of repetition. King repeats “one hundred years later” four times throughout the paragraph as a means of suggesting that as a race, African Americans are STILL struggling after a century. He also uses bold diction, which adds emotion to his speech. Phrases such as “manacles of segregation and chains of discrimination” portray an idea of imprisonment that their lack of freedom has created. In terms of isolation in our society, King uses the metaphor of an island in a vast sea to describe African Americans. He says that the African American race is in the “corners of American society” basically pushed aside, overlooked, and mistreated. Exiled. This paragraph sets the tone for the rest of this powerful speech and prepares the audience for the call for change initiated by King. The last line of this passage expresses how King wishes to dramatize and bring to the surface this terrible existence of discrimination.

  5. Alhaji Bah says:

    As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
    I choose this passage from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech because I feel like it states the reason for the whole civil rights movement, and informs the audience that in order for blacks to gain the equality they are searching for the commitment must be continued far beyond the duration of the speech and the dream cannot be given up on. Dr. King states the question “When will you be satisfied?” and reminds the people of the true goal at hand. I think that the intention of this was to keep blacks and black supporters from becoming complacent after achieving parts of the dream without the true vision being manifested.
    I also liked this passage because I feel like it not only mentioned the issues at the moment of the speech but because it also relates to what blacks have to continue to fight for even in the 21st century. Although there are no longer signs that discriminate between white and blacks, or voting laws that prohibit black from voting, as a society we still have to continue to work towards the dream Dr. King had. As a black student I still believe that blacks are at a disadvantage and are still suffering from laws made during slavery which set us back, and gaining equal footing as whites has not been completely achieved yet. The “ghettos” and jail cells are still occupied by a majority of blacks and it is now up to us to educate ourselves and put in the effort to gain the ability to use the rights that our ancestors fought for to their full potential.
    As Dr. King spoke there were no hand gestures during this passage but his emphasis and tone of voice frequently changed in order to make his point. Dr. King shakes his head and his voice and body language is very firm every time he says “we can never be satisfied.” He says everything in a tone that shows that he truly does believe what he is preaching and doesn’t expect to fail. Dr. King also frequently stops in order for the audience to absorb his message. I think that these show his greatness with rhetoric as I was touched by the speech even though it was given forty eight years ago.

  6. Emma Rohe says:

    Passage:

    It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

    I chose this passage of the speech because when I was highlighting and analyzing, it really stuck with me and I noticed a lot of interesting usages of writing skills to enhance what was being said. The tone of this passage is very subdued yet powerful at the same time. He does not use any rough language or anything that would come off as pushy. In the video of the speech, during this particular portion of the speech he does a lot of head nodding to emphasize that they will not rest and there will be no tranquility in America until they are granted their rights. This was effective because it displayed his emotion and seriousness of the text. He also utilizes metaphors and adjectives to add dimension to what is being described. He says that “it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the movement” which is a very catchy sentence because he says, fatal which implies that the countries success and theoretically “life” depends on it. It makes it seem that without making the changes that he feel need to be made, the country will not prosper or move on to become successful which is very important. Next, he uses a reference to seasons to describe the situation that was occurring. He compares the discontent of the Negros to a sweltering summer which instantly gives listeners a discomforting feeling just by mentioning the uncomfortable summer heat. He then references freedom and equality as an invigorating autumn. This adjective, invigorating, gives off a feeling of enlightenment and refreshment. This is way more appealing than a sweltering summer; therefore achieving the freedom Martin Luther King Jr. desires is the best option and will guarantee a good feeling amongst the people. Finally, he concludes this passage by saying “the whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” I was drawn to the last part of this sentence when says that the day justice emerges is bright. I liked this adjective because it depicts the light at the end of the tunnel. It almost guarantees that after all of the struggles that have occurred it will be a bright day and happiness will fill the air.

  7. Rachel Seban says:

    Passage:
    “There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self­hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

    Analysis:
    In this excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, Dr. King uses repetition, basic sentence structure, and imagery to re-enforce his main idea that equality between whites and blacks is needed. Throughout this passage King begins many of his sentences with either “we can never be satisfied”, or “we cannot be satisfied”. The repetition of these two similar phrases makes Dr. King’s point stronger and much more direct. The repetition goes hand in hand with the basic sentence structure that he utilizes. Almost all of the sentences in the passage begin with one of the phrases and are followed by a scenario. Both of these things work together to allow Dr. King to bring in several different ideas and examples into one short paragraph all while making the same point, that Negros will not be satisfied until all of these things no longer happen. They will not be satisfied until they achieve the well-deserved equality with the white man.
    Imagery is a strong element in this text and gives the passage a greater meaning that the audience can relate to. Dr. King gives five brief but descriptive examples as to why the Negro is not yet satisfied. Although these are brief they each hold enough description to allow the audience or reader to compile an image in their head. Imagery also creates a greater chance that the audience will be able to make a personal connection with the speech or text, creating several different meanings for each individual.
    Dr. King uses repetition, basic sentence structure and imagery throughout the rest of his speech as well. All of these things individually bring extra meaning and significance to the speech but when they all work together the meaning is multiplied, and is on a much larger scale. For example without the repetition in the passage the several examples of imagery would have been confusing. The repetition brought the reader back to the main point, while still allowing their mind to wander and create images in their head.

  8. Nick Skrobot says:

    And this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
    My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring! And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
    And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
    Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
    Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
    Let freedom ring from the snow­capped Rockies of Colorado.
    Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that:
    Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
    Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
    Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

    From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
    And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
    Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

    I chose this part of the speech because I feel that his heart is most into this one. With all the emotion that he has been dealing with and everything that he has been going through I feel that this is the main idea in the speech. He wants the idea of freedom for all races to be heard all over. From the mighty mountains of New York to the curvaceous slopes of California. He wants his message to not only be heard by the people right there listening to the speech but he wants them to take what they saw that day and spread it all over the nation and world. When he stands for a message he doesn’t just want the people that hear him directly say it. The whole point of those powerful words is to get people to realize that his message is more than just words. Those words have a powerful message and that message is for freedom to fly from one side of the nation to the other. The message of getting all of gods creatures one day in harmony to walk in the holy land hand in hand is needed to be said to every soul and needed to be spoken of just so that they know that they are free.
    When he has his last line: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” it is a moment of life-changing relief for millions of people. Hearing those words it takes the stress off of the shoulders of so many people for those hurting years before. The idea that everything that they have been fighting for for so long has just been accomplished is a relief that people needed to survive. Freedom has finally come to everyone and the fight is ending.

  9. Moy Lombrozo says:

    I Have a Dream

    Passage: But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

    To me this passage stands alone from the rest of the brilliant speech given almost half a century ago. If one examines it closely it is quite obvious that all but the first and last sentence begin with the phrase “One hundred years later,” but it goes beyond mere repetition. These words are used so often in order to drive the point home that African Americans who thought their equal rights came after Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation were proven wrong after the Civil war ended. Their descendants, to the moment that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave this memorable speech were still waiting to receive their equal rights. Although it may just be a small phrase, the constant use of one hundred years makes the listener keep the length of the failed promise in the back of his or her mind in order to truly realize how long this justified cause has existed and been fought for.
    This passage however fulfills an even greater purpose than just making a claim about how long African Americans have been waiting. Dr. King Jr. refers to his people as the Negro for the sole purpose of showing how isolated they feel from American society as a whole even though it is their home. The line, “the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land,” says it all. Dr. King is stating that his conflict is against any individual, but society as a whole. The fact of the matter was that it became such a powerful movement because it was about their home, those who claimed that Africa was their true home most likely had not lived in the United States as long as the ancestors of African Americans. What I believe makes this passage the most effective in the speech is Dr. Kings tone throughout the paragraph. It reminds me of Gandhi’s non-violent protests in India in the way that he speaks about revolutionary ideas, but seeks them through peace and better understanding of one another.

  10. Megan Berey says:

    Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his intelligence and diplomatic speeches. His most famous speech, the “I Have a Dream” speech, is read all throughout America and was heard by millions in 1963. I chose this selection because it showcases King’s ability to persuade his audience to do “the right thing.”

    “But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

    This paragraph is a perfect depiction of Martin Luther King Jr.’s way of creating peace in a world of chaos. He forms the beginning of the paragraph by stating, “there is something that I must say to my people.” This shows the urgency of the message that King is about to portray to his audience. He then goes on to tell the people that they must not be “guilty of wrongful deeds.” This means that, though fighting for peace is not wrong, it is immoral to find justice through crimes. He uses a metaphor by saying, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” In plain terms, King is telling his audience that, although they want equality very badly, they cannot win this war if they continue to hold onto their bitterness and hatred toward white people. He tells them that they must continue to show dignity and discipline, which can only be achieved through rightfulness, and without physical violence. His last line in this paragraph, “Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” King was a religious man who strongly believed that soul power was just as powerful as physical power. This quote is important in the speech because it tells the audience the ways to go about “fighting” for peace and equality. If he had not included this paragraph in his speech, violence and anger may have arisen in order to prove a point for equality.

  11. Kristy Arbour says:

    “But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
    In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
    This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
    But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

    After taking in the emotions of Martin Luther King day I really wanted to choose a passage that reveals hope and faith within the society of what was going on in the time of this speech. I always got the understanding when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, he talked with a sense of power and urgancy trying to get across his true emotions and heartfelt messages he feels thats relevant at the time. When he speaks on this part of the passage he goes on to say that at the time the Negro is not free and how they get torn into every direction because of the segregation of the area. I think its great how he stated “And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.” This shows that he’s taking a good hard look at all of the issues going on and trying to make a change. I always could tell he was passionate, but when he stated this to the public he really made it known that he wanted things to change. What I take away from this writing is the fact that all he wants is the segregation to stop and for everyone to have equal rights. He knows that it may not change in the future, but his hopes are high and he really feels that this speech was the start of making people know how important this issue of segregation is. Also in this passage I like how he brought up the “cash the check.” statement. Its a good way to think getting things done. In this sense I feel that he was saying that they need to take whats going on and put it into use. People need to realize the problems and now need to take what they know and run with it in a positive manner. This passage really gave me a sense that he wants things to change and its a great way to understand these things when he brings in articles such as the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. It makes people understand the issues more when important bills are put into play too. So all in all I feel this passage not only reveals the facts that Martin Luther King Jr feels strong about, but wants to give hope on the future. I also really enjoy the fact when I was watching his video on the manner he speaks at. He uses great hand motions and firm tones of language to evoke emotion in the areas he needs. When he feels strong about something it is firm and to the point. I respect the way he portrays his feelings and am glad he was strong enough to give this speech.

  12. Rebecca Wernette says:

    Passage:
    It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty­three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
    But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

    Critical reading:
    Martin Luther King Jr. starts this passage off by saying that if white America does not look at the urgency of equal rights for all, then the nation will crumble. This is not only a small threat to the highest authority, but also a truth. He says that the negro people will not stop fighting until they receive their freedoms, and that giving them their freedom will not be the end of the United States, but in fact the beginning.
    The second paragraph is MLK directing his speech to all the African-Americans he is fighting for. He tells them that in the process of fighting for their rights, they must fight fairly and not commit ‘wrongful deeds’ or malicious acts. He tells them not to stoop to the level of bitterness and hatred that many whites had, and that they must indeed take the role as the bigger people.
    His language in these two paragraphs greatly sets his tone towards each type of person he is addressing. In the first paragraph he uses more a language of threat and fact, a voice of warning. He wants to show that he means business and so do his fellow people. In the second paragraph he uses more tranquil language to help communicate that they must rise above those who seek to bring them down, and not stoop to a low level of violence, for that will not help solve their problems. He isn’t forcing an opinion on people, but more allowing them to follow and using a language that speaks to each on an individual level.

  13. Chelsea Dickens says:

    But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

    I found this to be a powerful piece of his speech. When the rest of the speech is about standing up for what is right, this section says to back off and be dignified. His quote: “Who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice” I took to mean as they’re preparing to head into a difficult time as they press for equal rights. He’s not telling his people to back off the pursuit for freedom, but to do it in an unexpected, peaceful way. The police were brutal to the blacks, and Martin Luther King wanted his people to be opposite; not to act as Americans might expect them to act. He warns against physical violence, which would show racists that the blacks are a strong people filled with honor and courage. I find it extremely gracious of Martin Luther when he says not to succumb to bitterness and hatred. He’s asking the blacks to forgive or at least put up with Americans for the wrongs they’ve committed. I find that to be a huge act of kindness and strength on the blacks part. They’re going to meet “physical force with soul force”. That is my favorite line with a powerful statement of resolve. I think it is the underlying solution for the whole civil rights movement. His tone is a more somber, monotone; it’s a voice of seriousness and resolution. He wants it to be taken seriously. He also subconsciously shakes his head, backing up his statement.

  14. Sarah Schensted says:

    Martin Luther King Jr. used some exquisite vocabulary throughout his entire speech. I looked up the words manacles and languished to be sure of their correct definitions. This passage and the rest of the speech use no slang and some complex language. But none of the language is too hard to grasp. Even I knew the basic idea behind manacles and languished. The context of this speech is vast and ominous. The entire Civil Rights Movement has come to a head. This speech and the enormous amount of people, who came from far away to see it, changed the face of America. All of America was struggling and fighting over the subject of segregation. Martin Luther King Jr. was a major leader of the Civil Rights Movement and this was his shining moment and he knew it. When people where physically fighting and suffering from police brutality Martin Luther King was speaking and preaching peace and a better tomorrow. The entire country was listening to his words with baited breath. Something about this passage grabbed my attention. I am not sure if it is because of the powerful imagery, or how true Martin Luther King’s words are to today’s society. One of the things that concern me in my life is the think mist of material prosperity. I see girls walking around campus in one hundred dollar shoes, and boys driving cars to nice for them to pay for, and think about people in poverty. How can people splurge on unnecessary items while others in the same town are starving? And let’s be honest, just as it was back then, when you go to a lower income area you will see more black people. Not even ten minutes away you can find huge houses filled with mostly white people. Segregation has ended but some problems have remained. Just as chains would hold and cripple someone, discrimination is holding African Americans back from what they can do. Blacks are still being passed over for jobs and given the cold shoulder. Martin Luther King Jr. uses his preaching voice, imagery, and a excellent vocabulary to sway people to his side.

    • Sarah Schensted says:

      “But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”
      -MLK

  15. Andrea Sigrist says:

    And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village
    and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when
    all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics,
    will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
    Free at last! Free at last!
    Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

    We all know that this is one of the most famous speeches in history and the ending is my favorite part of it. I have watched his speech and read his words many times in school and while it is a long speech, I endure it because I look forward to getting to the end. He is just so powerful with his words and his tone of voice is what makes it extra powerful. He sounds so positive and uplifting as he is finishing his speech, giving the people hope that change really is coming. He has his people hooked onto his every word and listening to what he is saying like they will magically change the world in that very second. They are all cheering and screaming in agreement because he is so powerful and passionate about what he is saying. He is saying exactly what they all want to hear and the people are loving it. He also uses his motions as another form of expression to get the people into what he is saying. He is so strong in his words that he really doesn’t need to be very expressive in his movements. I think if he stood still the entire speech they would still react the same way, but when he does add movement and is expressive with his body language they just get more into it and start screaming more. I love this speech and I know that if I was one of the people in that crowd I would have been just as into it and loving it just as much as they all were. He definitely had a way of getting everyone into his words and the hope he was spreading.

  16. Blaine Huber says:

    Passage: “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children”.
    This particular passage isn’t one of the better-known excerpts from Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, but I find this part to be very interesting in what he says and how he says it. This passage begins with him talking about the urgency of now and how segregation must be ended quickly. He states that there is no time to be gradual in the desegregation of the races and he also talks about how the United States has democracy in place to make these changes. He speaks for racial justice using many different rhetorical appeals and concludes this passage with “make justice a reality for all of God’s children”.
    What I found interesting about this passage was the forms of rhetoric that King used so often and so well. He refers to gradualism as “the tranquilizing drug” which has an obvious negative connotation. He appeals to those who support democracy by commenting on how democracy was put in place to allow desegregation to occur. Other phrases such as “dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice” and “lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood” are phrases that are meant to show the ridiculous and terrible nature of segregation and show desegregation as “a solid rock of brotherhood” or “sunlit path”. He concludes the passage with a comment relating to desegregation making “justice a reality for all of God’s children” which appeals to those who are religious. All the while, during his speech, he continues to speak in a relatively calm fashion. He has no intention of getting people worked up during this passage, but he rather was trying to reason with them on a more logical level. He used his rhetoric to present a side, which he later uses to make his more powerful speaking rhetoric to give us the speech that we hear today.

  17. Kathryn Saulitis says:

    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 self­evident, that all men are created equal.”
    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.
    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
    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.
    I have a dream today!
    I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” ­­ one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

    The passage I chose is without a doubt one of the most famous of this entire legendary speech. Every word, and every line that Martin Luther King chose in his speech was perfectly placed and used to evoke emotion in anyone who read it. I believe that it was extremely smart to emphasize and include our nation’s creed,”We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” because this was written by our founding fathers, it is engraved in our countries founding documents yet had been an empty promise for centuries; a promise that was long over due. The next line uses historical context as well, by including his dream that ancestors of slaves and ancestors of slave owners will be able to sit together in brotherhood. He was showing how the battles of the Civil War may have ended but the fight was still occurring. He includes the most racist states and shows how he isn’t condemning them, yet he is hopeful that one day they will be a symbol of freedom and justice. Using his children was brilliant because across the world children are seen as a symbol of innocence. Instead of saying that he hopes he and his piers will be judged by the content of their character rather than their skin, using his children makes it so the audience feels more sympthetic to racial injustice. He again uses children to tell his messege by expressing his dream that little black boys and girls will be able to hold hands with little white boys and girls. In watching the video, his voice and facial expressions are what really grasp the viewer. He doesn’t sound like he is just giving any old speech, he is preaching his message in a way that is so strong no one can even ignore it. Certain words get louder or more prominent, and he makes sure that no listener will ever lose attention to the messege he is trying to relay. Martin Luther king uses effective rhetorical devices, by evoking emotion in his audience, and connecting with his audience as a whole, and not just speaking to them as a community of black people but as a community of Americans.

  18. Ning Ding says:

    Passage:

    We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

    Response:
    “I Have a Dream” is a public speech by Martin Luther King to awake Negros’ sense of freedom. As MLK mentioned in the speech, 100 years ago Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and this supposed to end the manacles of segregation and the chains of the discrimination. Unfortunately, 100 years later, Negro still not free. Negro keep silence about their unfair treatment. The power of this speech is MLK made people realized this problem in a 11minutes speech.

    In my quote passage, MLK use several sentences began with “Now is the time…” By using this structure, MLK emphasized his opinion and made his audiences felt pressed. According to the video, this paragraph led the first peak in this speech. His audience clapped, cheered and followed he said “ Now! Now!” Martin Luther King successfully caught his audiences’ attention and made them support his idea.

    Today, the Chinese people also face similar problem that the Africa American faced 40 years ago. We still not truly free people. Here is no democracy, no meaningful right to vote, no effective legal protection ordinary people’s personal property. Lack respect for the dignity of ordinary people. The survival of ordinary people is still extremely difficult. And our government officials lack of oversight and embezzle public funds.

    Chinese people have the same dream. Our material life has been improved but the situation of the people still did not get better. We need to promote public benefit in the progress of reform and opening up to the people to maintain the benefits. If we do not do that, if we continue weak, corrupt officials, the government, will continue to erode the material misappropriation of public savings.

    We are in the pursuit of civil rights. It is necessary to make different from the previous change. Only by changing the way we pursue, persevere in order to force the authoritarian government to make changes. We do not expect the Government will take the initiative to change, without people’s press the government officials are willing to enjoy the benefits of the right. This benefit is based on the majority of people experience the suffering abuse.

    Civil rights belong to the people, the people in the pursuit of civil rights movement are the masters of the movement. We have to be unity, we have to cry until we realized that day. We need everyone’s participate to make this dream come true.

  19. Brittany Skale says:

    And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
    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 self­evident, that all men are created equal.”
    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.
    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
    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.
    I have a dream today!
    I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” ­­ one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
    I have a dream today!
    I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be 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.

    Reading this passage critically,you can really feel the emotion expressed in the words. MLK repeats the phrase “I have a dream” to really emphasize his main point and catch the attention of listeners. This aspect of this speech is very compelling and emotional. He expresses his wishes and hopes of equality for all people and his language is used in such a way that induces energy and excitement in listeners.

  20. Robby Brill says:

    “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
    And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
    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 self­evident, that all men are created equal.””
    Martin Luther King has been known as a father in the civil rights movement however, multiple times in his speech he refers to the fathers of our country. People that every man in the nation no matter color or creed has the utmost respect for. In the declaration of independence it claims that all men are created equal. While at that time it merely meant white land owners King effectively turns this principle into one that applies to all of mankind. He wants to draw in a large audience in order for him to get his point and change the minds of other people. His repeated use of the I have a dream helps him to relate to his audience because its obvious that everyone white or colored has a dream and only one of them is able to try to attain this dream.

  21. Maggie Minor says:

    Passage: We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
    It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty­three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

    Response: I liked these two passages because MLK Jr. talks about how he believes the citizens of America need to act fast. He makes a lot of references such as “Quicksand of racial justice” and “solid rock of brotherhood”. I think all these statements make this passage really powerful and make people think of how important it is to not sit back and wait but actually come out of the shadows and fight for what they believe in. He says that “Nuneteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning” I really like that line and I think it shows what a great persuasive speaker he was. It shows his leadership skills which he had much of.

  22. Libby Morgan says:

    Passage-
    “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
    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.”
    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.
    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
    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.
    I have a dream today.”

    Analysis-
    This selection of Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream” represents the heart of his message and struggle for equality. He wishes that one day his children will have the same opportunities and chances as everyone else. He wants people to be judged on their character rather than the color of their skin. Additionally, the mention of states such as, Mississippi and Georgia represents the fact that he hopes for people in the south to be able to exist as one and not separate. These states are also the heart of the problem and pose the biggest struggle for African American’s freedom. He hopes that they will be able to change their ways and stop the unjust treatment to people just because of their color. Once they are treated fairly, they will no longer be oppressed and will be granted freedom.

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