Famous Speeches Analysis

Essay by Bhatia12Junior High, 9th gradeB+, November 2014

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I Have A Dream

Martin Luther King Jr.

Delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.


Social Context

This speech was Martin Luther King Jr.'s most iconic and influential speeches. Delivered to a large gathering to civil rights marchers, this speech's purpose was to press the US government for racial equality. At this point in history, "black" Americans were strongly racially targeted particularly in the southern states. Laws in these particular states forcibly segregated coloured and white Americans; thus introducing the formation of ghettos. Americans who attempted to stand up for equality risked facing attacks from Ku Klux Klansmen, who bombed homes and churches.

Personal Context

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist who had a prominent impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s. Through his activism, he played a crucial role in concluding the legal ghettoization of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the establishment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most glorified African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, "I Have a Dream."


The power of the speech was arguably down to the delivery as much as the content. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech was 17 minutes long, yet is best remembered for the few moments where he pushed aside his papers and in a soaring voice painted an stimulating picture of a future America. Martin Luther King's speechwriter Clarence B Jones confirmed in his book Behind the Dream the final section of the speech was off-script, after King gave himself over "to the spirit of the moment."...