A Rhetorical Analysis of "Impasse in Race Relations”, by Martin Luther King Jr.
In this essay "Impasse in Race Relations”, Martin Luther King Jr. felt privileged to personally address all the Canadian audience that were present nationwide. He reminded every one of the historical relationships that once existed between American Negroes and Canadians, hence considering both U.S. and Canadian citizen above just being the citizens of North America. King Jr. reminded every one of the role of Canadians as the North Star in the history of the struggle for America's freedom (Longaker and Walker, 2011).
King Jr., recalled how the Negro slaves were imprisoned, dehumanized and denied education, but hoped for freedom on the north land. He mentioned about the railroad that linked the south and Canada, on the roads to their freedom. He described, how in difficult times, they used to hope for escaping to the heaven (which was another word for Canada) by following the Underground Railroad. He included one of the spirituals “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, that carried a disguised direction towards the Canadian border by following the North Star. And standing on its ground, it reminded him of all the past struggles for freedom along with Canadian people.
King Jr. discussed how the Underground Railroad was not enough to free many of the slaves butthen, that was their only hope for the freedom of the people. It became a symbol of hope when it was impossible to think of freedom. He focused on how it took centuries to free the Negroes from slavery which wasnot possible in just a few days of time. Hence, he asked everyone to keep the faith and to think not only about freedom but how it could be achieved (Larrotta, 2016).
In Paragraph 7, King Jr. expressed the two phases of struggle in recent past. The first began in the early fifties when the doors to submission and subservience were shut by the Negroes. By adapting the conditions that offered non-violent resistance in the United States, they kept demanding their manhood and citizenship. To fight the brutal segregation that was practiced in south, he recalled how they created a rebellion in the north.
King Jr. also recalled how they marched on streets to mark their protest against slavery and for their freedom. He discussed boycotting the use of bus in Districts of Montgomery, the demonstrating that occurred in Birmingham, and how they maintained non-violence, even during the courses of defying guns, segregation, dogs and clubs in Selma, and thus confusing the rulers in the south. Later their protests were supported by many whites as well and they collaborated for keeping the human dignity alive.
In Paragraph 9, King Jr. explained the needs of Negroes and the whites that coexisted at that same duration of time. He mentioned how Negroes were focused on freedom and whites on their improvement. Later when the laws changed and Negroes were given the opportunity for education and employment opportunities, it contributed to the overall sense of completion. Then the author explained about the second phase of struggle when the whites resisted the involvement of Negroes in much higher level in the social structure. King Jr. also discussed the racism problem that existed in the U.S. culture from the very beginning. There was a resistance from white in every field that made the goal of freedom out of reach from the Negroes, as they struggled to fight against this injustice and racism issued in the society (Davis, 2017).
In Paragraph 11-12, King Jr. discussed about the riots that occurred in the decade from 1955 to 1965, that underestimated the violence suppressed by Negroes and bigotry of disguised action by white majority people. Then the contradiction occurred between Negroes and whites due to those series of riots. Also, the author explained how some Negroes turned to violence for fighting for their own position and survival and thus gave an extra edge to the white people to point towards the cruelty that were imposed on the Negroes (www.revolvy.com, 2017).
In Paragraph 14-16, Luther Jr. emphasized on whether the guilt behind the riots were only applicable to Negroes and whether those issues gave new direction towards their struggle for freedom. Later on he referred to the ghetto outbreaks which he tried to elaborate through his writing, mainly emphasizing on two sentences written by Victor Hugo, a century ago. There Hugo mentioned that sins were committed by the souls when they are left in darkness. But the guilt are the one which does causes these darkness, but not actually committing the sin. The author compared sayings by Victor Hugo, with the condition of Negroes in the society which was built by the White Americans, as he explains how the discrimination in terms of behavior, social inequality and injustice has forced the Negroes to protest against the atrocities carried on them. Hence he believes that the root cause behind the actual crime and riots were the white people themselves that created separate laws for Negroes living in slums and encouraging hatred towards this community.
In Paragraph 18, King Jr. appealed to the society that the term whites do not relate only to the America’s white people community, but are referred to that section of people who are opposing against the rights that the Negroes are privileged to and thus raising discriminating culture in their society. He also appreciated many white people who actually gave up their traditional culture to accept the Negroes and are concerned about their welfare. He explains how their fights are against the ideologies and policies that are set by the leaders of white people, not against the entire white people community.
In Paragraph 20, the author took five specific elements that he thinks might have caused those riots- practicing pervasive discrimination, white backlash, unemployment, Vietnam War, extensive migration and urban problems. The backlash resulted due to the emotional outburst of the white people, who consistently tried to create pressure on Negroes to remain poor and unequal permanently. The author painfully explains how the old generation of Negroes had to go through various discrimination practices, but it was later opposed by the younger generation due to the restrictions forced upon them in their schools, neighborhoods, society and as well as job sector (Sunnemark, 2003).
In Paragraph 21-22, Luther describes the situation of few Negroes who managed to step forward towards the economic and social ladder, since it was not easily achieved due to all the opposing forces of other communities that tried hard to bring them down. Also, this whole discrimination phase was enough reason to give rise to unemployment across the country during the 30's when the United States was edging towards revolution phase. According to the author, this created further rage and rebellion amongst the Negro people.
In Paragraph 23, the author did mentioned about the effect of war that took place in Vietnam. It actually constituted 20% of Negro soldiers as compared to their 10% existence amongst the whole population count in America. Luther Jr. emphasizes on how this war had killed a huge number of Negro population as they attempted to defend Saigon government.
In Paragraph 24, King Jr. described the ultimate cause of riots, which was due to the declining condition in urban life including air pollution, inadequate public facilities, and contaminated water along with financial crisis. The author explained the condition of Negroes during that pitiful phase. He also added the information on how the white people were provided free lands, facilities and income sources, in contrast to Negroes, who were treated and denied any kind of resources after immigrating to America. He thinks all these conditions had fuelled the causes behind riots violence by this community.
In Paragraph 26-28, King Jr. expressed his personal beliefs that to never accept defeat, even if the situation seems worst. He focused on how these riots created an awareness amongst many political leaders from the white community, who agreed on the fact that the social injustice and discrimination was a huge factor in causing those riots and hence need addressing. They were addressing those issues not because of Negro welfare, but for sustaining peace in their own cities. And they were far behind from creating any government act at that moment.
In the following few paragraphs, King Jr. demanded about a program, that will address all issues faced by the Negroes and provided them opportunities and stable source of incomes. He stressed on demolishing slums to rebuild them in a proper manner. The author was still convinced that all these were achievable using non-violence.
In Paragraph 35-37, King Jr. strongly points out the negative aspect of riots that can only lead to defeat in their struggle for freedom. He hoped about the future possibilities that can be decided by the white leaders during the social crisis. He shared the fate of American Revolution that occurred in 1776, that gave rise to the democratic republic, against all the cruelties and violence by King Georg.
In Paragraph 38-40, King Jr. discussed the Negro revolt that was necessary to remove social injustice and discrimination in the United States. The death of American Negro, Crispus Attucks in 1967, was the beginning of a new struggle to create a society of peace society with ample liberation for all the races and sects (Larrotta, 2016).
Davis, E. (2017). Massey Lecture #1 – Impasse in Race Relations. [online] Scribd. Available at: https://www.scribd.com/document/136906544/Martin-Luther-King-1967-Massey-Lecture-1-Impasse-in-Race-Relations-docx [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].
Larrotta, C. (2016). Creating Original Products and Infomercials to Study Rhetorical Analysis. Adult Learning.
Longaker, M. and Walker, J. (2011). Rhetorical analysis. 1st ed. Boston: Longman.
Sunnemark, F. (2003). Ring Out Freedom. 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=8bJ8SrMf9-wC&pg=PA196&lpg=PA196&dq=A+Rhetorical+Analysis+of+%22Impasse+in+Race+Relations%E2%80%9D,&source=bl&ots=ixOriBIJnj&sig=b8YBXzbY_fIxliIx-QkELYVQ46w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR0rDg3-nSAhUDTY8KHbAQD-8Q6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q=A%20Rhetorical%20Analysis%20of%20%22Impasse%20in%20Race%20Relations%E2%80%9D%2C&f=false [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].
www.revolvy.com. (2017). Impasse. [online] Available at: https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Impasse&item_type=topic [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].