King VS Lincoln Essay

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Eric Huling
Period 7
Mr. Smith
King vs. Lincoln
August 28, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s enduring speech entitled “I Have a Dream…” delivered before an estimated crowd of 250,000 people who gathered at the Lincoln memorial in Washington, D.C. The speech was part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom organized by by civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, and John Lewis. King was the last of ten speakers to address the crowd that momentous day. Louis Martin, former advisor to President John F. Kennedy recalls: “As I sat on the stone steps looking out on the vast throng I was fully conscious that this was one of the great moments in the history of blacks in America. Never had so many black American come together from all sections of the country to strike a blow for first-class citizenship.”
King’s speech is perhaps the most recognized speech right after Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. In fact, King’s speech shares four interesting similarities to Lincoln’s ageless speech. First, Lincoln’s speech was not heard by the crowd because Lincoln spoke softly, almost muttering the words. The crowds did not realize what he said until they were published in newspapers the following day. Similarly, a large portion of the crowd in Washington did not hear King’s soaring speech because the sound system was sabotaged before the event and there was not enough time for engineers to completely repair it. Of course, King, the son of a pastor and a pastor himself, was a brilliant writer and orator; Lincoln, however, was a brilliant writer but not as gifted as an orator. Second, King’s speech, like Lincoln’s, anchors his remarks in time, even to the point of using similar language, as well as evoking the specific image of President Lincoln (Lincoln:
“Four score and seven years ago…”; King: “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.” Third, both men wrote a draft of their speeches the night before the event. And finally, both speeches are examples of quintessential speeches — towering above all the great speeches of history — for their impeccable diction, rhetoric, symbolism, and cadence. And just as important, both speeches are timely and timeless,. Gary Younge, who researched King’s speech in great detail, elaborates: A great speech is both timely and timeless. First and foremost it must touch and move its immediate audience. It needs to encapsulate the mood of the moment, reflect, and amplify it. But it must simultaneously reach over the heads of the assembled toward posterity… [King’s] speech [qualifies] on both counts.”
George Raveling, a retired basketball coach. In 1963, Raveling was a basketball player at Villanova. Because of his height, the event organizers asked him to be King’s bodyguard as he delivered his speech. After King completed his speech, Raveling had the foresight and good sense to politely ask for the reading copy — and King graciously gifted that famous speech to him. In his autobiography, King describes his delivery of this important speech: “I started out reading the speech and read it down to a point. I hadn’t thought about it before the speech. Clarence Jones, a speech writer that collaborated with King on an early draft of the speech described how a single outburst of encouragement changed the course of one of the most famous speeches in history. Legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson was a close friend of King who had been invited to sing two songs at the event. She was standing near