WORD LISTS

Figurative Language in King's "I have a dream" speech

February 26, 2013
Learn the vocabulary King used to inspire a generation to break free from the "manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination."

On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I have a dream" speech. Speaking from the steps of the LIncoln Memorial in Washington D.C., King stood before an estimated quarter of a million people who had gathered to demonstrate for passage of the Civil Rights Act. This list focuses on King's use of figurative language.
sear
This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.
wither
This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.
injustice
This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.
manacle
One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
segregation
One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
poverty
One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
vast
One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
prosperity
One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
architect
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
republic
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
promissory
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
default
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.
insufficient
Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked " insufficient funds."
funds
Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
justice
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
bankrupt
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
opportunity
We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
desolate
Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
valley
Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
discontent
This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
invigorating
This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
autumn
This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
equality
This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
righteousness
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹
stream
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹
oppression
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
oasis
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
hew
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
discord
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
symphony
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

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Comments from our users:

Friday March 15th 2013, 6:42 PM
Comment by: Cookie (VA)
I miss Dr.King!
Tuesday March 19th 2013, 11:43 PM
Comment by: Vicente H H. (CA)
OMG.Thank yo so much for the help to get improve my language
Thursday April 11th 2013, 3:44 AM
Comment by: Adil A. (Pakistan)
Thank you for letting me learn some words I did not know
Monday April 15th 2013, 11:50 AM
Comment by: Sylvia D. (IL)
I have a dream
Tuesday April 16th 2013, 6:50 PM
Comment by: Kevin C. (FL)
Thank you king for reminding us to appreciate how many mountains and hills there are in Alabama and stuff.
Thursday May 9th 2013, 10:32 PM
Comment by: ashish (CA)
it made me emotional , same injustice is going on here in India with some minorities based on cast. if some people are unable to go up , they push people down to feel like a winner.
Wednesday May 22nd 2013, 2:03 PM
Comment by: Don K. (MD)
Comment from Ashish is King-worthy: beautifully expressed, so memorable and true!
Monday June 3rd 2013, 11:58 AM
Comment by: Rose S. (ME)
There are just the words I need to know for school thanks
Thursday July 4th 2013, 11:00 AM
Comment by: kevin G. (kottayam India)
the speech never fails to inspire me...the excellent choice of words and the effective use of rhetoric and figurative language needs to be lauded aswell
Friday July 5th 2013, 11:20 AM
Comment by: Adeline S.
I use this speech to teach rhetoric to seniors in high school. I am going to turn this list into a bonus vocabulary list for the students who want to keep learning.
Friday July 12th 2013, 11:48 AM
Comment by: Alejandro ,Alexander, Lexy. (Argentina)
I have recently discovered this website. I believe it is so useful to improve, to learn, to enjoy. I am so greatful because it makes me quench my thirst for knowledge. Thank you so much. Alexander S.
Monday July 15th 2013, 8:59 AM
Comment by: Omar A. (United Kingdom)
Dr King - inspirational and a hero to the world.
Friday August 2nd 2013, 12:11 PM
Comment by: Om Prakash Ranjan (op) (India)
I'm agree with "Alejandro"... It's very useful website. Now i'm addicted to it.

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