Figurative Language in King's "I have a dream" speech 30 words

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.
  1. sear
    become superficially burned
    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.
  2. wither
    lose freshness, vigor, or vitality
    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.
  3. injustice
    the practice of being unjust or unfair
    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.
  4. manacle
    shackle that consists of a metal loop that can be locked around the wrist; usually used in pairs
    One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
  5. segregation
    the act of segregating or sequestering
    One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
  6. poverty
    the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions
    One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
  7. vast
    unusually great in size or amount or degree or especially extent or scope
    One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
  8. prosperity
    the condition of prospering; having good fortune
    One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
  9. architect
    someone who creates plans to be used in making something (such as buildings)
    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.
  10. republic
    a form of government whose head of state is not a monarch
    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.
  11. promissory
    relating to or having the character of a promise
    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.
  12. default
    fail to pay up
    It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.
  13. insufficient
    of a quantity not able to fulfill a need or requirement
    Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
  14. funds
    assets in the form of money
    Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
  15. justice
    the quality of being just or fair
    But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
  16. bankrupt
    financially ruined
    But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
  17. opportunity
    a possibility due to a favorable combination of circumstances
    We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
  18. desolate
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
  19. valley
    a long depression in the surface of the land that usually contains a river
    Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
  20. discontent
    a longing for something better than the present situation
    This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
  21. invigorating
    imparting strength and vitality
    This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
  22. autumn
    the season when the leaves fall from the trees
    This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
  23. equality
    a state of being essentially equal or equivalent; equally balanced
    This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
  24. righteousness
    adhering to moral principles
    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
  25. stream
    a natural body of running water flowing on or under the earth
    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
  26. oppression
    the act of subjugating by cruelty
    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.
  27. oasis
    a shelter serving as a place of safety or sanctuary
    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.
  28. hew
    make or shape as with an axe
    With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
  29. discord
    lack of agreement or harmony
    With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
  30. symphony
    a long and complex sonata for symphony orchestra
    With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.