For African Americans, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s was a very trying time. They faced discrimination, segregation, and hostility due to the manipulation of Jim Crowe Laws. In August of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The speech was given in front of over 200,000 civil rights supporters. "I Have A Dream" is a moving speech that reveals the hardships of African Americans in the United States. Along with the Emancipation Proclamation delivered one hundred years earlier, it is regarded as one of the greatest American speeches of all time.
MLK's speech follows the style of a Baptist sermon. Throughout his speech he alludes to multiple documents and speeches throughout history such as the Bible, Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, and the Constitution. In the opening of his speech he alludes to Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" saying, "Five score years ago..." (King) By stating this, MLK was describing how long it had been since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and how ineffective it was with segregation. Even though it eliminated slavery, it didn't create equality for African Americans. MLK dramatized the shameful conditions so the people understand how much of an impact had on the African American community. Evoking historic and literary references in the speech had a powerful effect. His views are very reasonable because the Declaration of Independence says all men are created equal yet African Americans are persecuted just because their skin is a different color. That's like comparing polar bears to grizzly bears; they are both bears just different fur. Everyone is the same on the inside, everyone bleeds red.