Common-Core Aligned Dreams: Persuasive Speeches

 ”This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

Who spoke the words above? Really, it could have been any civil rights leader over the course of American history.  Many powerful voices from both women and men have been raised in the name of ending discrimination.

But the passage above is actually a less-oft quoted portion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech, and is the starting point for this week’s post.

Dr. King’s famous speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the summer heat of Washington D.C., is a shining example of moving oratory. Bursting with metaphor and visual imagery, it is the very definition of. . .you guessed it. . .inspiration!

Yet often times only its last third is quoted and referenced in schools. In looking at the full text of the speech, we see that Dr. King had a purpose beyond firing up the crowd. Over the course of its lines he airs grievances, and demands the righting of wrongs. He promises  those who perpetuate segregation that he and his followers will not be silenced–and warns that the movement will not fade away. Perhaps most importantly, he calls on his supporters to not only keep fighting with him, but to do so in a nonviolent manner. It’s a beautifully done persuasive speech.

The Common Core State Standards (SL 6.4-12.4) require that students be able to write and present persuasive speeches, but often times public speaking can be a challenging task. Inspiration understands this difficulty and has met it with our Persuasive Speech or Essay template for Inspiration 9:

Have your classes both listen to and read the I Have A Dream Speech this week to celebrate Dr. King’s upcoming birthday–and then use his words to get your students to think beyond the surface. What is the purpose for the speech? Who is the speaker trying to reach? What does he want the crowd to do?

This template and accompanying lesson plan (available here in the English Language Arts section under “Speeches & Essays) can be combined to help your students organize their thoughts, write solid speeches and feel prepared when it’s their turn to stand and deliver. Dr. King believed deeply in the power of education and the ability for all voices to be heard, and we couldn’t agree more!

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Want to use this template for Inspiration Maps? Don’t forget that Inspiration 9 files can be exported to the iPad!

Signing off from Inspiration HQ,

Stephanie H.


Social Media Specialist for Inspiration since 11/12. Loves STEM, environmental education, visual learning and all things related to people overcoming challenges!
View all posts by InspirationSMS

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