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Origins of the DreamHughes's Poetry and King's Rhetoric$
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W. Jason Miller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060446

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060446.001.0001

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“I Have a Dream”

“I Have a Dream”

King Speaks in Rocky Mount

(p.160) 8 “I Have a Dream”
Origins of the Dream

W. Jason Miller

University Press of Florida

This chapter analyzes King’s first documented use of the phrase “I have a dream.” Because the speech was delivered at Booker T. Washington High School, the introductory focus of King’s speech can be read as an extension of the final ideas Washington himself used to end his famous speech at the Atlanta Exposition of 1895. King’s speech is a revised version of the series of speeches he delivered in 1956 (chapter 7) that included his rewritten lines of Hughes’s “I Dream A World,” and the emergence of the dream in this speech is read as another direct engagement with Hughes’s poem. King’s speech has none of the structural elements of earlier speeches where he incorporated ideas about the American Dream from E. Stanley Jones. The term metanaphora is introduced as a way to measure King’s sustained efforts in many of his speeches to maintain the cadence he encountered in Hughes’s “I Dream a World.” King invokes the practice of including intentional mistakes in this speech to highlight his own dream of a new world. The structure of King’s “Let Freedom Ring” set piece is reconsidered as a result of the measured number of lines King uses in this oft-repeated passage.

Keywords:   Atlanta Exposition of 1895, Booker T. Washington, E. Stanley Jones, “I have a dream”, “Let Freedom Ring”, metanaphora, Rocky Mount, North Carolina

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