January Virtual Workshop 
The Power of Speech

***Students please read through the background text below , follow all prompts, carefully reading through the questions and make sure to click on all links, then answer the 5 questions below. All responses are due by January 21st to receive participation credit! 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most memorable speech from his life as an activist, “I HAVE A DREAM,” was delivered on August 28, 1963, before more than 200,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The speech was part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It not only helped to galvanize the already growing civil rights movement across the country at the time, but also became one of the most influential and inspirational pieces of rhetoric in American history.

Remarkably, midway through his delivery, King suspended his pre-scripted text and began to improvise; what resulted was the speech’s most recognizable section, the passage in which the words “I have a dream” are passionately repeated. Indeed, King’s background as a Baptist preacher in the South instilled in him a talent for improvisation as a speaker and the skill to frame the urgency of the moment.

What is also apparent in “I Have Dream” is King’s deep commitment to scholarship (he earned a Ph.D. from Boston University). King was clearly well-versed in both American history and religious scripture, and he seamlessly weaves references to both into the fabric of his oration. Overall, “I Have a Dream” can be held up as a masterful creative work in itself; its dramatic structure coupled with its image-laden content render a remarkably moving piece of American literature that still strongly resonates today.

MLK (1).jpg

For today's workshop please complete the following items below:

  *  Click on the this link and carefully read / listen to the entire speech - preferably aloud.  

  * Next compare the structure and content of "I Have a Dream," with Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" and Kennedy's inaugural address

1) How are the speeches alike and/or different in their choices of language? In other words, do the speeches seem as if they were composed for the general public or rather for specific groups? 

2) Of the three, which do you see as being the most direct? That is, which speech uses the least amount of figurative language and/or obscure references?

3) Which of the three is the most metaphorical in its content? In other words, which makes the most use of figurative language?

​4) For each speech, explain how relevant its ideas would be in society if the speech were delivered today. Do the mentioned struggles still exist? Has the country evolved since the speeches were given? Has society responded to the specific appeals for change?

5) Based strictly on the texts themselves, which speech do you see as the most:

  •  Eloquent?

  •  Passionate?

  •  Intellectual?

  •  Persuasive?

  • Honest?


Dr. MLK Question 1 & 2

Dr. MLK Question 3 & 4

Dr. MLK Question 5