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I Have a Dream Speech Questions and Answers

I Have a Dream Speech Questions and Answers

 

Q. 1. Comment on the historical context of the speech I Have A Dream.

[I Have a Dream Speech Questions and Answers]

Ans. This spell bounding speech of Martin Luther King carries a complete contextual background with it. The blacks were deprived of their rights and racial discrimination was at its peak. He fought for the rights of Afro-American people and launched ‘Civil Rights Movement which became the basis of this memorable speech. His struggle for the oppressed blacks turned to be mass movement against the cruel and discriminatory attitude of the Whites. His prime motifs were to get equal rights and to get rid of the discriminatory attitude of Whites towards the Blacks. Negroes were considered socially, economically and politically inferior as compared to the other race living in America. He wanted to have equality for the Negroes on all grounds so that they could work for the progress of nation ultimately. Negroes were considered politically and socially inferior and this speech refers to exploitations of the whites. Luther King tried to make people aware of their rights and that of discriminatory and hegemonic attitude of the whites.

 

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Q. 2. How does Martin Luther Ling Jr. claim that now is the time to “make justice a reality” for all in the United States in I Have A Dream.

 

Ans. King goes on to declare that now is the time to “make justice a reality” for all in the United States. He describes the situation as “urgent,” stating that the growing discontent among black Americans will not just go away. Instead, in order to ensure “tranquility” in America, the black man must be granted his true rights as a citizen of this country. However, King is keen to stress that this revolt should not be violent. While the struggle must continue, his followers should not allow their protests to become physically violent. Instead, they must make clear to white Americans that the prosperity and freedom of both black and white are bound together. The struggle must continue until police brutality is no longer a concern for negroes, black people are no longer turned away from hotels, ghettos are a thing of the past, and voting rights are universal — indeed, until justice is served.

 

Q. 3. What premonition does King give to his followers about their mode of protest?

 

Ans. Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech “I Have A Dream” tells his followers that in the process of gaining the rightful place the black men must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. They should not not seek to satisfy their thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

 

They must forever conduct their struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. They must not allow their creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again they must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead them to a distrust of all white people, for many of their white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to their freedom. They cannot walk alone.

 

 

 

Q. 4. Comment on King’s theory of persuasion in I Have A Dream.

 

Ans. Dr. King uses Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion, as well as a great deal of figurative language, in order to convey the idea that there cannot be true peace or freedom in America until all citizens of color are granted the same rights and privileges and opportunities enjoyed by white Americans. He argues that this is the only way to achieve real justice and righteousness for the country.

 

Dr. King employs ethos when he speaks about making “justice a reality for all of God’s children.” He implies that he has the same values and beliefs as his audience, as well as the majority of Americans, in order to persuade the audience that God would want all citizens to have equal rights. Dr. King employs pathos when he argues that, even one hundred years after the abolition of slavery, “the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” With this metaphor, he implies that black Americans still endure a kind of enslavement or captivity, something that ought to engage the American people’s sympathy for this cruel treatment and help them to see their own ethical obligation to remedy it. Dr. King employs logos when he reasons that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence make promises to all citizens, including citizens of color, and that those promises have not yet been fulfilled.

 

Dr. King describes the effects of these unfulfilled promises, saying that “the whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright days of justice emerge.” He uses metaphors to compare rebellion against unjust policies and practices to tornadoes, and justice to clear and cloudless days. The nation, he implies, will continue to experience the great storms of revolt until this broken system is fixed, and only then will it be able to enjoy the sunshinefilled days of peace brought about by the workings of justice. He also uses another metaphor when he says that black Americans have been seared in the flames of withering injustice.” Injustice is compared to a fire, a fire that harms and consumes. He uses such figurative language to create powerful images that will persuade his listeners of the rectitude of his claims and his dream.

 

Q. 5. What are the dreams of Martin Luther King?

 

Ans. King acknowledges that protesting in this way has been hard for many. Some of those present have been recently in prison, or have come many miles. But he promises that the struggle will be rewarded, and asks his listeners to return to their home states filled with a new hope. He then describes his famous “dream” of the country that will one day emerge.

 

>>>He has a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” 

 

 

>>>He has a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

 

>>> He has a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

 

>>>He has a dream that his four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character,

 

>>> He has a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there 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.

 

>>> He has a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

 

6. Comment on the Conclusion of the speech I Have a Dream.

Ans. The speech “In Have a Drem” reaches its climax and then comes the most famous part of this speech, for which it is titled. King says his dream is ‘deeply rooted in the American dream.” This reinforces the protestors’ rights to equality in America. He says he dreams that “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” This emphasizes the need for black and white Americans to work together. Central to the message of this speech, and the Civil Rights movement more generally, is this line: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He talks about the importance of faith, and that “all flesh shall see [the glory of the Lord] together.” That faith, he says, will help them in the struggles they’ve faced, the struggles they still face, and those struggles yet to come as they peacefully fight for liberty and equality. King then uses a line from the song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”: “This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!'” Only by realizing this as truth, King says, can America become a great nation. He begins the next section by mentioning mountainsides throughout the country, repeating “Let freedom ring.” King closes the speech with another iconic line: “When all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free.at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!””

 

 

Q. 7. Comment on  the language of the speech of I Have A Dream.

 

Ans. King’s word choice throughout the rest of the speech is paramount as well. He uses vivid words to construct an image. Some examples include the following “beacon of light,” “seared in the flames,” “midst of a vast ocean,” and “joyous daybreak.” In choosing words with intense imagery, the speech is given life and jumps into the imagination of the audience. The language utilized in the speech was that in which a normal, everyday person was capable of understanding. King was a very well educated man, and his lack of enormous words shows his solidarity with his audience members and his unwillingness to isolate any of them. “Whatever he received he first stripped of intellectual complexity and ambiguity in order to offer plain choices to his hearers. Then he clothed what was left in exaggerated metaphorical language in order to elevate the subject matter of his speech. Such language has little appeal to the eye but never fails to work on the ear and the heart” (Lischer 117). The rhetorical device used the most in this speech was anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase, and King uses anaphora on four different occasions: “One hundred years later,” “I have a dream,” “Let freedom ring,” and “Free at last.” There are obvious reasons for using anaphora, which include stressing the importance of what you’re saying, and additionally, helping people to remember what you’re saying. Had King not used the rhetorical device of anaphora, I do not believe that this speech would have been as successful. It is possible to listen to a speech and at the end, still not understand what the speaker just said; however, with the device that King uses, it is almost guaranteeing that you will pay attention. If you did not hear what he said the first time, you are going to pay attention when he repeats it for the third or fourth time. Upon closer examination, I believe King chose to repeat the words that he did for a specific reason: to detail the timeline of racial segregation.

By using “One hundred years later,” King is showing that things have still not changed and inequality exists. When saying “I have a dream,” King is showing what he wants in changing this inequity. In saying “Let freedom ring,” King is showing that freedom is indeed a possibility. And when saying “Free at last,” King is projecting to the future, showing that his dreams are within reach and will come true. Essentially, it is what I think King wanted out of his involvement in the Civil Rights Era: to see what happened in the past, think about making change, make the change happen, and look back and celebrate after the change occurred. When looking at it this way, it could be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy embedded in this speech. While this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy for King himself and his end goals for the era, it may also be one to the nation as well: we can have equality, we will have equality, and one day we will look back and celebrate. 

 

Q. 8. Comment on the use of Biblical reference in the speech I Have A Dream.

 

Ans. The Bible also played a large role in the construction of King’s speech. King’s inclusion of biblical rhetoric may have been due to not only his upbringing as a pastor, but also his knowledge of the audience. “Many of those who heard “I Have a Dream” had read the Bible repeatedly and carefully. Biblically literate Jews and Christians comprised a large portion of King’s audience – the 250,000 who heard the speech in person, the several million who listened on radio and television, and the many additional millions who heard or studied it later” (Miller 409). While there were biblical scholars among the audience, there were also African Americans who may have recognized certain verses, but did not study them to the extent of these scholars. By including these verses in his speech, King is able to create a bridge between scholars and the laymen of the audience. For the scholars, King’s inclusion of biblical passages demonstrates how knowledgeable he was in the academics of the Bible. For the laymen audience members, specifically African Americans, he was showing parallel images between the suffering of those in the Bible in accordance with the sufferings felt by African Americans at the time. African Americans surely felt a connection between themselves and those that were persecuted, including the Jews and Christians. This is a way for King to connect with his audience. And, even though scholars may not have identified with what King was preaching, to members of his own race, they were able to recognize and appreciate how well versed King was in his study of the Bible. It also may have helped scholars to re-examine their interpretation of the Bible. “King contends that the African-American struggle against oppression provides an invaluable lens for viewing biblical narratives about oppression. He argues, in effect, that because African Americans live in captivity and exile, their experience is, in Niebuhr’s terms, the “medium” from which one can comprehend the Hebrews’ experience of slavery in Egypt and of captivity and exile in Babylon (Miller 417). King is essentially trying to expose the hypocrisy that may have been portrayed by religious leaders who were not in favor of equality and integration. He is exposing the parallelism between African Americans and members of religious organizations that experienced injustices in the past. By exposing the similarities between groups, King is able to establish a connection between African Americans, religious scholars in favor of integration, and religious scholars against integration.

 

 

 

Q. 9. This is our hope.- Who is the speaker? What does he refer to as ‘our hope’?

 

Ans. At the conclusion of his famous speech “I Have A Dream”, Martin Luther King says this.

 

He talks about the importance of faith, and that “all flesh shall see (the glory of the Lord) together.” That faith, he says, will help them in the struggles they’ve faced, the struggles they still face, and those struggles yet to come as they peacefully fight for liberty and equality. King then uses a line from the song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”: “This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!'” Only by realizing this as truth, King says, can America become a great nation. He begins the next section by mentioning mountainsides throughout the country, repeating “Let freedom ring.” King closes the speech with another iconic line: “When all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”

 

Q. 10. Let freedom ring ….- What does the speaker speak about the ringing of ‘Freedom”?

 

Ans. At the conclusion of his famous speech “I Have A Dream”, Martin Luther King says that there will be a day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

 

Luther commentsa that if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. He then proclaims that ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Freedom should ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Freedom should ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Freedom should ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! Freedom should ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Freedom should ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Freedom should ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From Freedom should every mountainside, let freedom ring.

 

Finally King comments, when this happens, when the Americans allow freedom to ring, when they let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, they will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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