After School Treats
Search Site: 
Creative Enrichment and Snack Ideas
Art History
Classics & Mythology
Drama & Speech
Food & Cooking
Fun, Games, Dance & Exercise
Global Education
Holidays & Seasons
Online Learning
Partners & Teams
People Skills
Preschool Activities
Service Projects
Vehicles & Machines
Author Bio
Share an Activity
What Kids Need After School


Home   |   Blog   |   Facebook   |   Email A Treat   |   Links   |   Site Map

Holidays & Seasons        < Previous        Next >


Holidays: Martin Luther King Day

Appreciating the 'I Have a Dream' Speech


Today's Snack: In honor of the long and proud struggle toward good race relations in this country, enjoy two all-time popular after-school snacks. Think about the symbolism of literally swallowing these and letting them nourish your body - just as understanding among the races is nourishing for the soul. The snacks are: Oreo cookies, and chocolate milk!




Today is a day to perform some kind of community service,

particularly to help racial minorities;

select a charity or nonprofit organization to support today

with a bake sale, car wash, penny drive, book drive,

litter pick-up, water bottle hand-out, spaghetti feed, etc.


Use the links at the bottom for today's Treat



Martin Luther King Day commemorates the American civil rights movement and one of its greatest leaders. It brings to the spotlight one of the greatest speeches of all time.




Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963. The crowd was estimated at 250,000, including 50,000 who were white. The speech was nationally televised, live.


Dr. King's speech is credited with prodding Congress to push through the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Among other things, it outlawed discrimination in employment based on race, color, gender, religion, or national origin. It also forced the desegregation of public places such as schools and museums. So the speech was a real breakthrough for racial equality in the United States. King was awarded the Nobel Prize, largely on the strength of this inspiring speech.


The speech was inspiring because of Dr. King's masterful use of language. Here are three of the keys:






The "I Have a Dream" speech was rich with allusions. An allusion is a reference to something else. If you match an allusion to the knowledge base of your audience, you increase your communication power because your audience is familiar with what you're referring to. Their minds make a quick trip to the reference point to "check in," and then come back to what you are trying to get across. Your point becomes more familiar because you've made that connection with what they already know. Your audience is at ease and in sync with you.


In this speech, Dr. King alludes to Abraham Lincoln, the Bible, small children, specific states, specific mountains and ideals like "brotherhood" and "freedom." These were successful because of his audience's familiarity and emotional attachment to those things. He might have made accurate allusions to scientific facts or Shakespeare, but since his audience wasn't as familiar with those things, those would have fallen flat, and his connecting power wouldn't have been as strong.


Another literary strength of this speech is its metaphors. A metaphor is a word picture that helps the reader or listener imagine what you're trying to say. It's a figure of speech in which something is called something that it is really not. Even with the exaggeration and impossibility of the metaphor, though, a truth is proclaimed. The dictionary definition gives this metaphor: "a mighty fortress is our God." Because you know that the expression goes beyond the literal interpretation - God isn't REALLY a fort -- your mind is lifted up and over the material world into the world of imagination. You don't read a lot of metaphors in the daily newspaper or in schoolbooks, so when you encounter one, it's memorable and attractive.


Dr. King's metaphors included slavery word pictures: he spoke of "the manacles of segregation" and the "chains of discrimination" (manacles are handcuffs; chains were how slaves often were transported and kept from escaping). He portrayed racial injustice as "quicksand" and brotherhood as "solid rock." America's freedoms and bounties are depicted as a bank, and the relatively disadvantaged status of black Americans was likened to that entire race of Americans receiving a "bad check." Everyone can relate to that, even if King's white audience couldn't relate as powerfully to racial discrimination. Note that this speech was given in late August in Washington, so the metaphor of "sweltering summer" to describe the African-American population's discontent and suffering over racism was successful, especially when he called his hope for freedom and equality an "invigorating autumn."


A third writing device in this fine speech is the use of repetition. Dr. King was a preacher, and a very fine one, and he uses the musicality of repeating words and phrases to build the emotional impact of this speech, especially at the end. One reason we respond so strongly to music is that we like repetition; we like to hear the second verse with different words to the same tune. You can use that natural human proclivity by repeating words and phrases selectively to emphasize a point.


Dr. King's exhortation to his audience to go back to their specific states and keep working for racial peace used repetition. Listing various mountains and hillsides across the country and, with a touch of humor, referring to "molehills," unified his points as applying to all Americans. He urged them "to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together."



Study this world-famous speech. The text is printed in the link below. You will no doubt find many more admirable features in it which commend it as a great piece of writing that will stand the test of time:


The best way to honor a great piece of writing is to memorize all or part of it. Here's a cool way to memorize at least the highlights of this immortal speech:


By Susan Darst Williams Holidays 2011


Holidays & Seasons        < Previous        Next >
^ return to top ^
Read and share these features freely!







































































, All Rights Reserved.

Website created by Web Solutions Omaha