In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It was mid civil war, the newly industrialized North fought for the emancipation of slaves, while the south fought hard to keep slavery. The proclamation was supposed to free all slaves and force the nation into a state of equality, the however was little. The treatment of blacks remained unchanged, poverty plagues the negro population, and many remained at the feet of whites, acting as indentured servants. 100 years after the signing of this proclamation, very little had changed. It was after that 100 years that Martin Luther king wrote
Why We Can't Wait to spark a fire under the ‘negro revolutionists’.
Why We Can't Wait
, by Martin Luther King jr., which shifts from the heartbreaking story of the little boy and the little girl, to the extensive issues the black race faced, used gripping rhetorical questions, and strong word choice to exemplify the idea that equality can not wait any longer. In the introduction, the use of rhetorical questions, such as “why does misery constantly haunt the negro?”, “was emancipation a fact”, and “was freedom a force”, enrich the writing and draw in the audience, provoking thoughts of equality. King explains the troublesome situations in which these two kids live, then asks the question “why does misery constantly haunt the negro?” to force the audience, the negro population, to contemplate their situation, subconsciously drilling in the idea that their treatment is unfair. The question has such a deeper meaning and feel of unlawful treatment that spikes the thought in their minds.
The question was significant to the text because it has such a deep emotional significance. It is relevant in the context of which it was being asked, but when looked at separate from the text, it is a crucial question on the topic of equality; the question of why. Why are they treated so unjustly, why have they not been granted the equality that was promised? Later in the passage, King asked “ Was emancipation a fact?” which opened up a huge topic of discussion of the time. The emancipation proclamation was signed in the 1860’s, the documents purpose was to abolish slavery, and to force equality on the nation. However, no equality emerged from the proclamation. By asking his readers if emancipation was a fact, he was not asking in the superficial sense, but a more meaningful way. The emancipation proclamation was a fact, legally it demanded equality, but it had very little effect of the racism and treatment of ‘negroes’. It provokes thought in the readers and once again pulls in the audience to the universal idea that equality has not yet been achieved.
The introduction of
Why We Can't Wait presents two children, both living completely separate lives with separate personal struggles, then shifts to the very wide spectrumed view of segregation. Yet both afflicted by the same issues that blacks all over the nation were afflicted with, poverty, segregation, injustice, and inequality. King includes this account to personalize the issue. If he were to simply state that blacks faced the following common issues all over the nation, generalizing