Award Date

5-1-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Committee Member

David Henry

Second Committee Member

Thomas Burkholder

Third Committee Member

Erin Sahlstein

Fourth Committee Member

Stephen Bates

Number of Pages

146

Abstract

The August 28, 1963 March on Washington is often remembered primarily for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, which serves as the pinnacle of civil rights movement oratory. This thesis, in contrast, examines speeches of the leaders of the "Big Six" organizations that preceded King's well-known words in order to shed light on the complexities of the movement and the outcomes that can result from meaningful dissent. Occurring at a time of division, the March emerged as a symbol of hope for change in the nation. The addresses of the day reflected this hope and helped build a sense of community, not only through their words, but also through the embodiment of a community working together to achieve progress. This thesis argues that through its materialization as a dynamic spectacle, the arrangement of the discourse at the March, and its iconic representation of desired change, the March on Washington constructed community among civil rights activists. This sense of community, in turn, helped urge subsequent action and provided an identity for the African-American community.

Keywords

African Americans – Civil rights; African Americans – Race identity; Arrangement; Civil rights movements; Communities; Community; Dynamic spectacle; Iconicity; Identity politics; March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., 1963; Rhetoric; Speeches, addresses, etc., American

Disciplines

African American Studies | Communication | Rhetoric | Social Influence and Political Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies

Language

English