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Excerpts from Martin Luther King's Speeches

by Ron Kurtus (12 February 2005)

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great orator is the tradition of many southern preachers and ministers. He had great use of his voice, along with poetic imagery in his speeches. This is the same delivery used in many "hell and brimstone" sermons that Southern Baptist ministers and other preachers have used.

His most famous speech was I Have a Dream, given on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. In that speech, he included three mini-speeches that he included numerous times in other speeches. They are: I've Seen the Mountain Top, I Have a Dream and Let Freedom Ring.

We have included audio clips of those mini-speeches, so you can hear how he delivered the material.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Learning from speech

Listen to the excerpts to note the clarity of communication, the pacing of his words, the varying of volume for effect, and the emotions expressed. Also note the audience reaction to his words.

Speech writing

Things to note when studying the excerpts are:

Take notes on the mini-speeches to show where you felt the most impact was made.

Public speaking

Try to speak along with Rev. King, imitating his oratory methods. Although you may never want to speak in the same manner--nor would it be appropriate--you can get the feeling of how he was able to move his audiences. This will give you insight on how you can do the same.

Historical significance

Note the mission and goals of Rev. King in each of these mini-speeches. Do you think he was able to move people to action from these speech materials?

Martin Luther King, giving a speech

Martin Luther King, giving a speech


Excerpts

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:

I've seen the mountain top

I have a dream

Let freedom ring

Summary

Use this material by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to improve your skills in speech writing, public speaking, or history.


Speak with gusto


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project - Stanford University

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech - 1963 - Text and study

Famous Speeches Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Martin Luther King

Top-rated books on Civil Rights Movement

Top-rated books on Famous Speeches

Top-rated books on Oratory and Rhetoric


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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king_excerpts.htm

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