Pursuasive Rhetoric

16 Sep

Rhetoric is defined as the study of language that is used to influence the beliefs of others.  It can be used in many different ways and techniques depending on the purpose the speaker is trying to accomplish.  Personally, the type of rhetoric that I find the most interesting is persuasive rhetoric.  This type deals with controversial issues and questions that are not easily dealt with and usually do not have one concrete answer.

One of, if not the best rhetorical speaker the world has ever seen was Dr. Martin Luther King.  King was a civil rights activist that spoke out against the evils and injustices that African Americans faced throughout the 20th century.  King used persuasive rhetoric during his speeches to try to inform Americans about the injustices, racism, and political problems that needed to be addressed at that time.  What made King so special was the eloquence and intelligence of his words that always stressed non-violence and peaceful protest.  King had an amazing ability to convey power in his words while always promoting peace, non-violence, and respect for all men and women.  During the 1960’s, King led many civil rights protests and boycotts, but doing it peacefully was always paramount.

This week, we read a speech King made in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3, 1968 which was named “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”.  In this speech, King uses persuasive rhetoric in many ways.  He tries to convince the congregation to boycott certain goods, but the main message of his speech was to convince African Americans to stick together as brothers and sisters during times of difficulty and turmoil.  He uses the example of the Jews sticking together as one and conquering the Egyptians that had enslaved them to represent the power of one unit of people with a common goal and aspiration.

All in all, no matter your race there is no denying that Dr. Martin Luther King was one of the most influential and ground breaking human beings of all time.  He had a way with words and was able to dig deep into the souls of his listeners.  I idolize Dr. Martin Luther King and hope the world will be blessed with another person of his impact and ideals again sometime in the near future.

I chose the picture of the mountain because it conveys a beautiful image, which is what King says about being to the top of the “mountain” and seeing the bright future of his people.  The video is of the actual speech that King made.  This speech is also particularly famous not only for the quality of the message but because it was King’s last speech before he was assassinated.  Both types of media represent the beauty in King’s words, which was a familiar theme in all his speeches.

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