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Analyzing Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” Speech

Mar 14, 2023 | 0 comments

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Mar 14, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

I’ve been to the Mountain Top” by Martin Luther King Jr.

By the year 1968 on the 3rd of April, Martin Luther King had attained a reputation amongst the numerous that were preceded to him globally as a spiritual, great speaker and a well known civil rights activist. It is, therefore, easier to imagine him as a great man who spoke in church with a great congregation of individuals all with a great desire for hope to gain inspiration as well as to be challenged; and have a leader. This congregation was in search of equality, and quite a number of them were ready and willing to utilize violence to pursue justice. Therefore, Martin Luther had the challenge and significant task to speak to the people to inspire them to thrive to act out non-violently as well as to pass across the message that everyone is a child rightfully of God. Martin Luther utilized various elements in his speech including logos, ethos and pathos to instruct as well as effectively inspire his audience. Martin Luther implemented cautious word choice, and even created a common ground; nevertheless, he successfully created an intensive oriented call to action to effectively achieving his main objective.

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Figure 1. Martin Luther King giving his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

Throughout the speech Luther had his words chosen carefully, he created amongst his audience a sense of pathos. In the speech, there is the use of words such as ‘victory’, ‘freedom’ as well as ‘rightful place’. It is clear to assert that individuals along a wide range of cultures and ethnic backgrounds, as well as other differences, were fighting for these. Therefore, using these idealistic types of words created a dream that was shared throughout his audience. Nevertheless, these words would have seemed less impactful had he not used pauses at the most ideal moment. When Luther was slowing his pace with instances of substantially long breaks placed between the ideas as well as sentences; he is able to reel in the congregation into an ambience of intimate conversation with them as he begins; then every part progressed as the pace quickened. Luther presented his speech speaking slowly, and with a significant amount of passion, enabling his words to sink in; thus making the speech become substantially more significant amongst his audience.

Together with the pace increase, Luther’ tone rises as well. With the use of appropriate tone fluctuation Luther is able to display a great match up to his greatest metaphors, and ideas. Moreover, listening to the speech one can hear at these particular parts of the speech a significant rise in energy followed by thunderous claps and cheers from his audience. Luther strategically uses tone, together with pace as he told his story at the beginning of the speech; as he goes through the different times in history but intending to remain at the present time. Luther slowly rose is the voice as well as pace as he approached the story’s climax where he makes his point; thus effectively making it impactful. Therefore, the point was only an additional reason as to why the audience reacted positively well; it was an addition to Luther speaking at a relatively moderate voice as he begins to increase the volume in his voice the congregation hears as well as sees the level of confidence within his voice; thus becoming hopeful and confident as well. Luther appealed to the congregation’s emotions throughout his delivery through the speech.

Besides the choice of effective and powerful words, King Martin Luther utilizes repetition to enhance the creation of his idealistic dream world. Luther utilizes phrases such as, “I would…” as well as “If I had sneezed…” with aim of identifying the vital events and even the aims he had for attaining efficient civil rights. The important and crucial historical events enable the creation of the sense of unity as well as pride within the audience. The mention of the events took the audience to reflect back on the days and time they had pride and power, a time when injustice and lack of equality did not exist in the world. Therefore, equality created a common ground as well as efficiently proposed a major goal. Luther effectively identified a common feeling and even proposed a solution and path to achieving the goal.

Martin Luther King created a path to strive towards achieving a solution and thus gave a call-to-action that was significantly powerful. Luther utilizes logos as well as the momentum throughout his speech to efficiently urge and inspire his audience to take a course of action, and do something. Martin Luther carefully gives guidelines in concern of taking action; he urged them to remain patient as well as non-violent and at the same time significantly encouraging unity amongst them. Luther goes on to give a substantially in-depth description of the meaning of what it really means to care more about your brother than yourself, thus leaving his audience with a great message of hope.

I believe that Martin Luther King Jr. gave a significantly aggressive speech, “I have been to the mountaintop”, that has remained to be amongst the most powerful speeches ever given that passed a strong message of encouragement to urge for the patience to go on with the fight to attain social justice; a message that still pushes for the fight up to date.

Works Cited

King, Martin L. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr: His Great Speeches in Their Original and Complete Form. Hollywood, Calif: Gordy, 1986. Sound recording.

King, Martin L. I’ve Been to the Mountaintop. San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994. Print.

Schulke, Flip. Martin Luther King, Jr: A Documentary, Montgomery to Memphis. , 1976. Print.


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