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Martin Luther King - Speech Analysis

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Melanie Vargas

on 6 October 2014

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Transcript of Martin Luther King - Speech Analysis

In Martin Luther King’s 'I've Been to the Mountaintop' speech, uses empowering oration techniques to encourage the audience to continue the fight for social justice regardless of obstacles that may arrive, such as his death. The first aspect is important because he knew he would not always be around and he needed to be sure that his followers understood his message and that they would not give up so easily once he had left.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Speech Analysis

The Repetition of "But i wouldn't stop there"
- journey through history
- said six times (more impacting)
- Indicates there is no better time than the present.
- He would not give up all work he has done and the change he can see happening for anything in the world. And his followers shouldn't either
With a sense of ambiguity and mystery, King says "Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop."
- He doesn't care about himself - only the movement
- things are getting more heated
- Abraham Lincoln - Birmingham, Alabama - Jesus
- Constant reference to the past, uses examples to prove his point
- demonstrates that it was and is possible to make change.
- real life examples leave a lasting impression
By: Melanie Vargas

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an extremely well educated man with degrees in various fields. He was an advocate for equal civil rights for the African American community and believed strongly in using Gandhi's non-violent method of protest.
The day before being assassinated by James Earl Ray, he gave a speech entitled 'I've Been to the Mountain Top'. One of the most moving and powerful speeches of all time.
Anaphora & Personal Reference
He repeats "If i had sneezed" (impacting)
- Uses death, a common occurrence, to get to people.
- He puts himself on their same level
- Uses his own experiences to relate to public
Dr. King uses very different tactics to appeal to the audience, to encourage them to not give up, to give them courage and to demonstrate his acceptance of his death by acknowledging what he has done, embracing what is to come, and being happy that he has 'been to the mountaintop'.
"I've Been to the Mountaintop." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 1925. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I'veBeentotheMountaintop

"Mr. Newman's Digital Rhetorical Symposium: "I've Been to the Mountaintop" Speech Analysis." Mr. Newman's Digital Rhetorical Symposium. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2013. <http://newmanrhetoric.blogspot.com/2010/10/ive-been-to-mountaintop-speech-analysis.html>.
And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God's children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence,
I wouldn't stop there
I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.
But I wouldn't stop there.

I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders.
But I wouldn't stop there.
I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man.
But I wouldn't stop there.
I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg.
But I wouldn't stop there.
I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but "fear itself."
But I wouldn't stop there.
Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy."
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