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Drum Major Instinct Speech Analysis Essay

In his short essay, “The Purpose of Education,” Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote of the importance of education in our communities, if not for the goal of intelligence than for the goal of social living.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically,” he wrote. “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.  The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.” 

Over 65 years later, Dr. King’s words still reign true today, particularly for the library industry. For what library exists without the goal to enrich its community? What library is there—regardless of type or size—that does not strive to educate its users—regardless of age, gender, or race?

As we recognize Dr. King’s life and work today, let’s not forget how relevant his words are in the daily routines of our industry. In what way will you serve your community today, tomorrow, or in the future? We’re inspired by the following quote from his speech, “The Drum Major Instinct.”

“I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”

Product Description

This resource includes the annotated text with 50 marginal annotations and Common Core State Standards alignment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "Drum Major Instinct" speech. Using the comment feature in Microsoft Word, this resource includes critical commentary and analysis of the figurative and connotative meanings, rhetorical devices (logos, ethos, pathos), anaphoras, parallelism, repetition, allusions, themes aligned with the RI1, RI2, RI4, and RI6 standards from the Common Core State Standards. In addition to the identified figurative language, rhetorical devices, etc., the document includes standard alignment for each comment and marginal notes that explain the significance of each identified element. This resource includes a blank copy of the speech so students can practice annotating it. This resource will help teachers to guide students’ close reading of the text and help them to become more critical readers of informational texts. The provided commentary includes Common Core standard references so that you will be able to help students to see how the guided statements and commentary align with specific reading informational standards.


MLK’s "Drum Major Instinct" Speech Common Core Rhetorical Analysis w/Annotations by Dr. Joel C. Boyce is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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