I Have a Dream
“I Have a Dream” is generally recognized as one of the most influential speeches delivered by civil rights activists in American history. I also made an informative powerpoint presentation about this speech. Martin Luther King was able to communicate his ideas to a large number of Americans, demonstrating that any forms of racial discrimination directly contradict the most fundamental American values and liberties. King stressed that mere declarations were not sufficient to establish a free and just society. It was necessary to organize large-scale reforms in all spheres of public life to guarantee equal rights for all American liberties.
This speech was delivered on August 28, 1963. King made long preparations for this speech since 1960. He understood that it was crucial to integrate all basic ideas of freedom and equality in one speech. Moreover, the final version with stressing the importance of his dream appeared at the moment of his presentation in response to the crowd’s demand. This speech is highly appealing to almost all Americans because it addresses the importance of defending freedom in the 21st century. The structure of the US population is extremely diverse, but all people recognize that any individual or social progress is possible only under the conditions of liberty and equal rights for all citizens. As Americans recognized the role of freedom in general, they were ready to expand their application to those social spheres that were referred by King.
King understood that his plans could be realized in different ways. On one hand, the radical reforms can be implemented, and all forms of racial discrimination can be abolished. On the other hand, some moderate methods can be developed. However, King believed that only radical reforms could be effective as “this is no time …to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism; now is the time to make real the promises of democracy”. King suggested that preserving discrimination to any degree is the violation of people’s rights and American principles. Other people also accepted his position and supported the immediate abolition of all kinds of racial discrimination in the country.
One of the main reasons of King’s success was his ability to effectively communicate with different audiences without losing his legitimacy. It seems that King was oriented to the following key aspects. First, he realized that people with different life experiences could perceive the same information differently. Second, to maximize the ultimate effect, he should use different rhetorical techniques and address the needs of a given audience. Third, the basis of his ideas should remain constant, as he should not compromise the ultimate goal of achieving freedom for all American citizens. One of the key King’s objectives at all stages of his preaching was reaching the maximum possible audience. King understood that any large-scale social reforms could be possible only if public support was at the highest level.
King integrated the ideas of non-violence resistance promoted by Gandhi and other prominent leaders and applied them to the social and economic aspects of the life of the United States of the 1960s. King persuaded his audience that the interests of African Americans did not contradict those of other American citizens. Moreover, the only way to enjoy the just social conditions is to guarantee equal social rights and opportunities for all people. For this reason, King also supported the redistribution of wealth, as the differences in income can also lead to various social opportunities and potential discrimination in the future. Thus, King tried to defend his position in the most consistent way. He realized that only joint and well-coordinated efforts could lead to the desired effect. He said that people should “stand up for freedom together, knowing that” they would “be free one day”. Only the existence of a clearly defined objective could allow maximizing the general synergic effect of their actions.
The speech “I Have a Dream” reveals several important aspects of King as a leader and a person. First, he adequately understands the needs and desires of his audience. Although all people are different, all of them want to live in a free and just society. King demonstrated that the existence of discrimination was a serious obstacle to this objective. It was a problem not only for African Americans but also for other citizens. King explained that if discrimination practices existed, they would be applied to various social groups in different periods. Therefore, the only way to minimize these risks for the entire population was to abolish racial discrimination in all social spheres.
Second, he used effective rhetorical techniques to increase the emotional appeal to all listeners. He repeated “I have a dream” many times to stress that abolishing discrimination was not an ordinary event, so all people should combine their efforts. Third, he concluded that it was an indicator of the entire American worldview and principles: “if America is to be a great nation, this must become true”. His position was logical as freedom and the existence of discrimination were incompatible. Concerning his qualities as personal, it is evident that King primarily oriented to the needs of other people. He was especially concerned with the interests of those citizens whose rights were systematically violated. He was also highly devoted to truth and justice and realized that only non-violent methods could lead to success.
This document also demonstrates America in the 1960s. On one hand, people were highly devoted to traditional American values of freedom and equality. On the other hand, they could not consistently apply these principles to all social spheres. As a result, the Civil Rights Movement emerged. However, when people became aware of the coherent position of activists (and especially of Martin Luther King, Jr.), they realized that racial discrimination was the main threat to individual liberty in the United States of the 1960s. When the state of public opinion has changed, radical reforms were immediately introduced. They were not declarations but the description of a new state of affairs where all American citizens had equal rights.
It may be concluded that “I Have a Dream” was the fundamental speech that had changed the development of American history. The inconsistent application of traditional American principles violated the rights of minorities and created threats for a democratic model in general. King was preparing his speech for a long time, as he understood that it was crucial to present all the main ideas of the Civil Rights Movement in a single speech. Moreover, he adjusted it to the needs and desires of the audience and made it more emotional. He addressed both the logical and emotional aspects of his listeners to maximize the general effect.
This speech demonstrates that King aimed at improving the lives of ordinary people. He believed that the interests of all citizens could be harmonized. Any forms of discrimination oppose the essence of liberty and equality of people. As he was successful in changing the dominant public opinion, the drastic and timely reforms became inevitable.