Monday, February 2, 2015

One of the most Eloquent Readings that I have ever read Is Martin Luther King's "I've been to Mountain Top" speech.

                  One of the most eloquent speeches I have I had the pleasure of reading was Martin Luther King's "I've been to the Mountaintop." Arguably one of Martin Luther King's famous speeches, occurred only shortly before his tragic death. To fully comprehend the strength of Martin Luther King's voice, one must listen to the recording of the speech itself. I also encourage you to listen to the recording of the speech. On April 3rd, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee, Martin Luther King delivered a speech before a crowd who were protesting against the unfair treatment of African American sanitation and city workers.During the entirety of the speech, Martin Luther King used many different techniques to rally the audience into a united one. This was through his enormous ability at as a rhetorical speaker and his usage of rhetorical tropes and figures. It was also due to his creative description and his experience as a pastor. Martin Luther King was no short of an expert speaker and I want to show you how.

           First, Martin Luther King used many rhetorical figures during his speech. For example, Martin Luther King uses an anaphora twice in his "I've been to the Mountaintop speech." An anaphora is a repetitive beginning over a series of sentences.His speech also uses at occasion antistrophe, or the repetition of endings. An excerpt at the beginning of the speech displays both these figures of speech.

"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'm named had his habitat, and I would watch Martin Luther as he tacks his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn't stop there. 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."
     In the context of listening of each line, one must realize Martin Luther King was a pastor. With each repeat of "I would," his voice climbs high above and comes crashing down like a low growl. These waves of vocal notes keeps the audience focused and allows for each statement to build upon each other. Each repetition of the "I would" would draw a "yeah" or an applause from the crowd. This can also be seen later in his speech when he discusses the injunction imposed on sanitary workers. Martin Luther King starts to compare America to totalitarian countries, yet he draws back, praising the United States and our constitutional rights. This reversal raises the crowd into a fury, one determined to use their given rights to change their situation. This is a common bond of the civil rights movement. Civil liberties and non violent protests were used by Martin Luther King to achieve success throughout the civil rights movement. By refusing to recognize an unlawful injunction, Martin Luther King pushes his followers further. 

" But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say we Aren't going to let any dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on. We need all of you."

    Yet what makes this speech so eloquent and so unique is Martin Luther King's closing of his speech.  At the time, Martin Luther King was receiving death threats during his arrival in Memphis. Due to this situation, many of his supporters at this speech were worried for his life. Martin Luther King knows this, yet he pushes on fearless, with his vision of a free America in his mind. 

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life-longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. Nut I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."

       This closing statement really hits home Martin Luther King's Mindset. Its kinda eerie as well, as it seems Martin Luther King knew his death was approaching. Yet what I most like about this closing statement is the metaphor used. The "mountain" in his speech is the challenges King and his followers have faced for years. They have metaphorically have been climbing and slugging along for years. Yet Martin Luther King alone has been to the top, alone he has seen the "promised land." While his followers will continue to grind on through the hardships of discrimination, Martin Luther King pushes them, claiming that what they have been working for will come eventually. This closing statement really hits home the confidence Martin Luther King had in himself, his movement, and his followers. He knew something bad might happen to him, yet he did not care. He had already created an unbeatable movement, roaming state to state fighting discrimination and intolerance. He knew he had done his work, and what ever happened to him would not matter. He had already won. And that is why I find this speech to be some of the most interesting and eloquent writing I have ever read.

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