On August 28th, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C after having people of all races and creeds march in Washington to protest the injustices that blacks faced in America, Dr. King gave the world his dream. The 1960s in America was riddled with segregation and systematic oppression towards people of color. The Jim Crow laws, which upheld racial segregation in all public facilities, in many ways made the fourteenth and fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of no effect. Though blacks no longer worked without pay or were no longer bought and sold to another like property, the degradation and inhumane treatment at the hands of a white run government was a systemic reality, and so those that gathered that day sought to be encouraged to believe that true unadulterated freedom was more than a hope but a reality worth fighting, even dying for.
So it is to this nation that he delivers this speech. He begins with “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom...Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed a proclamation which stated that both blacks and whites were guaranteed the right to life, liberty and happiness”. He chooses to quote the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, and even bring the march’s culmination to the foot of Lincoln himself to make clear the great historical significance of the movement and the speech.
Dr. King’s words were powerful and evoked a sense of urgency for freedom’s reign. He intended for people to realize the injustices that plagued people of color were no longer acceptable and in no way upheld the ideologies on which America was built – freedom and justice. Dr. Kings use of parallelism and repetition exemplifies this. The fact that he begins several paragraphs that detail the specific injustices that African Americans faced with “we can never be satisfied”, “we cannot be satisfied” or “we are not satisfied” is an explicit illustration of an America that doesn’t uphold its tenants is not America at all. Additionally, what caused America to entitle this the ‘I have a dream’ speech is Dr. King’s repetitive use of the phrase to describe the kind of America one needed to work toward creating after the march was over. It could not be remembered as anything else but ‘I have a dream’ since he placed great emphasis on this line; he literally begins parts of his speech with those words seven times. In so doing he lays out his vision for what America would look like without the systematic evil of segregation. In the speech he states that his dream is to see “sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners sit down together” and to see that “…in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” Moreover, King’s rich metaphorical