Literary Discourse and Human Rights in Martin Luther King’s Speech: ‘I Have a Dream.’

Mujahid Ahmed Mohammed Alwaqaa


This paper attempts to explore the role of literary discourse, particularly engaged literature, in consolidating the values of human rights. It is an in-depth literary analysis of Martin Luther King’s speech: “I Have a Dream” in terms of form and content. Central to this paper is an effort to find out the tremendous power of literary discourse in positively changing and shaping individuals and societies by creating public awareness regarding rights and duties. Burning issues such as human rights violations and abuses are often brought into awareness and directly tackled by literary discourse. When people are given their rights, social justice and human development become inevitable. Findings from the discussion and analysis of Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream” show that literature do have a pivotal role to play in human rights promotion and social development. This role is important because literature does not exist for its own sake or in a vacuum. It is, rather, a true reflection and mirror of the mores and milieu of society. Moreover; it is a powerful expression of the sufferings, agonies and above all aspirations of the masses. The ability of human beings to articulate themselves in the form of literary discourse is the most substantial power they possess in shaping their destiny and life in general.  


Human rights; Engaged literature; Development; Society; Speech; Literary discourse

Full Text:



“Jim Crow.” International encyclopedia of the social sciences. Retrieved from <>.

“Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo released from Chinese Prison with late stage-cancer.” The Guardian, Monday 26 June 2017. 5. 51. Retrieved from. <>.

Ahmadi, A., & Shaghaghi, V. (2006). Economic development and planning. Ebadji and Jafar: Noure Elme Hamedan Press.

Ambrosio, G. (2010). Before We Say Goodbye. Trans. Alastair McEwen, London: Walker Books.

Davis, L. (1973). I Have a Dream: The life and times of Martin Luther King, JR. Retrieved from< >.

Frye, N. (2007). The role of the Humanities. Canadian International Youth Letter (ISSN 1201 4133). Interview.

Hunt, L. (2008). Inventing human rights: A history. New York: W. W. Norton & company.

Ichou, R. P. (Ed.) (2015). World trends in freedom of expression and media development. France: UNESCO Publishing.

Langley, W. (1999). Encyclopedia of human rights issues since1945. West Port: Greenwood Press.

Martha, N. C. (1997). Poetic Justice: The literary imagination and public life. Boston: Beacon Press.

Nemat, M. (2007). Prisoner of Tehran. London: Free Press Association.

Nickel, J. (2007). Making sense of human rights. Oxford: Blackwell publishing.

Orend, B. (2002). Human rights: Concept and content, New York: Broadview Press Ltd.

Paul, S. T. (2001). What is literature? (B. Brechtman, Trans.). New York: Philosophical Library P.

Pauline, M. (1999). The strange history of “All Men Are Created Equal”, 56 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 873, 156/issu3/8. Retrieved from

Smith, K. (2007). International human rights. New York: Oxford University Press.

Vered, B. The tremendous power of literature. The Guardian. Retrieved from



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Mujahid Ahmed Mohammed Alwaqaa

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Share us to:   


Online Submission


How to do online submission to another Journal?

If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in Studies in Literature and Language are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;;

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture