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10 Greatest Speeches


If the pen really is mightier than the sword, then the power of the spoken word has to be even more potent than any writing instrument. T e lasting impact of a well-craſt ed speech has long been recognised since man fi rst learned to communicate. T e long road to equality has in turn been paved with some of history’s most memorable moments of oratory. 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest speeches of all time, when Martin Luther King told the world, ‘I have a dream’. Here Steve Pope selects, in no particular order, 10 of the most moving and important speeches of all time


What was the big deal? Without question the best-known speech across the planet. At the height of the struggle for civil rights in 60s America, Rev Martin Luther King delivered a master class in oratory to an audience of 200,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. His speech was also televised to millions around the globe. It’s not surprising that his ‘I have a dream’


speech was voted the top American one of the 20th century in a poll of scholars of public address in 1999. Invoking Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, King starts the speech with the words ‘fi ve score years ago’. In the oſt en used style of Baptist preaching,


King uses the repetition of words to make his point. ‘I have a dream’ is, for example, repeated eight times as King paints a picture of an integrated and unifi ed America for his audience. According to academic David A Bobbitt,


“T e speech draws upon appeals to America’s myths as a nation founded to provide freedom and justice to all people, and then reinforces and transcends those secular mythologies by placing them within a spiritual context by arguing that racial justice is also in accord with God’s will. T us, the rhetoric of the speech provides redemption to America for its racial sins.” T e speech is made up of several diff erent


versions, written at diff erent times, and the ‘I have a dream’ parts were not in the original speech. It’s claimed that King may have taken up the theme when singer Mahalia Jackson shouted, “Tell them about the dream Martin.” ‘I have a dream’ spoke to the conscience of


America and did more than any other speech to highlight the huge injustice facing segregated black America.


Impact rating: 10/10


Martin Luther King 28 August 1963,


Lincoln Memorial, Washington


I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.


102 POWERLIST 2013 | WWW.POWERFUL-MEDIA.COM


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