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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - The “King” of Visual Communication

Among the many amazing features of Dr. King’s numerous classic speeches including, of course, his iconic, “I Have a Dream” speech was his use of “visual communication”… his talent and ability to paint pictures with words.

While Dr. King drew on a variety of rhetorical techniques to “Educate, Engage, & ExciteTM his audiences – e.g., alliteration, repetition, rhythm, allusion, and more – his ability to capture hearts and minds through the creative use of relevant, impactful, and emotionally moving metaphors was second to none.

What do metaphors do? They make the abstract concrete; the intangible tangible; the unfamiliar familiar, and the complex simple. By joining together in an innovative and powerful way the seemingly unconnected, effective metaphors imbed powerful and memorable images in our minds, while at the same time forging a powerful and memorable connection between speaker and listener.

With that thought in mind, I’ll leave with you this powerful and moving list of metaphors and images that Dr. King left with us:

  • A great beacon of light and hope
  • The flames of withering injustice
  • A joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity
  • A lonely island of poverty
  • A vast ocean of material prosperity
  • We have come…to cash a check
  • America has defaulted on this promissory note
  • A bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”
  • The bank of justice…the vaults of opportunity
  • The luxury of cooling off
  • The tranquilizing drug of gradualism
  • The dark and desolate valley of segregation
  • The sunlit path of racial justice
  • The quicksands of racial injustice
  • The solid rock of brotherhood
  • The sweltering summer of…discontent
  • An invigorating autumn of freedom and equality
  • The whirlwinds of revolt
  • The bright day of justice
  • The palace of justice
  • Satisfy our thirst for freedom
  • Drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred
  • The high plane of dignity and discipline
  • Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream
  • The storms of persecutions
  • The winds of police brutality
  • The valley of despair
  • The table of brotherhood
  • The heat of injustice
  • The heat of oppression
  • An oasis of freedom and justice
  • The mountain of despair
  • A stone of hope
  • A beautiful symphony of brotherhood
  • Let freedom ring 

 

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