This landmark speech of the Civil Rights Movement is one of the most powerful public orations ever. It was delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on 28th August 1963 at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The speech is exceptional for both its logical merit and emotional appeal. Indeed reading the transcript of the speech dilutes some of its rhetorical effects that were witnessed firsthand by the fortunate congregation at the Lincoln Memorial. King uses a range of allusions and symbols to reinforce his message of racial equality. He uses Biblical phraseology as fluently as he quotes from the preamble to the Constitution. He also uses common everyday experiences such as ‘en-cashing checks’ to illustrate a political point. Though the speech is delivered for political mobilization and has for its subject the deep-rooted social malaise of racial discrimination, it does not sacrifice its rhetorical flourishes. The combination of a powerful rallying cry delivered with a style bordering on poetic recitation makes it the most singular. It is hard to find any flaws with the speech. This is testified by the fact that it continues to be a source of inspiration for social activists even today.
King Jr. Martin Luther, “I Have a Dream”, Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963