I Have a Dream

This study guide will help you analyze the speech “I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, analysis, topic, speaker, audience, language, modes of persuasion, circumstances, and intention.

Presentation of the speech

Title: “I Have a Dream”
Speaker: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Context: African-American Civil Rights Movement
Date of speech: 28th of August, 1963

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was an African-American Reverend and one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. He was an activist for equal rights in American society and advocated for promoting them through non-violent means, civil disobedience, and Christian beliefs. He received the Noble Peace Prize in 1964 for fighting racial inequality through non-violent means. King, also referred to as MLK, was killed in 1968 by a supporter of racial segregation.

You can watch the speech here.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

"A speaker is using ethos when he appeals to his reliability as speaker and to his audience's trust in his reliability. The more likeable and reliable you come off, the more likely your audience will be to trust you and be persuaded by your arguments. 

As a church minister, King appeals extensively to the authority of Christian religious teaching, according to which all men are equal and should be treated as such: “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.”; “And this will be the day – this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:” (149-150) In 1963, people were more religious than today and that has probably also contributed to making the speech and King come off as reliable."

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I Have a Dream

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