In Concordance Exercise, my group members and I were assigned to determine the frequency, identify the manner and analyze the meaning of the phrases “Now is the time” in the speech made by Martin Luther King Jr in the year 1963 in Washington which entitled ‘I have a dream’. We were instructed to watch the video while reading the script given by Dr Zulkifli.

i) Frequency

From the script, I had indicated that there are 4 hits for the phrase “Now is the time” which is in the paragraph 6 by using Concordance of Antconc 3.3.4w software. To give the audience vivid images of what he is talking about, King uses metaphors that contrast the racial situation in the country in the past and present to the situation in the future. Metaphors allow King to associate his speech concepts with concrete images and emotions.


ii) Manner

In paragraph 6, “Now is the time” is repeated in four successive sentences, and is one of the most often cited examples of anaphora in modern rhetoric. It emphasis through repetition makes these phrases more memorable, and, by extension, make King’s story more memorable.
Reference link: Speech Analysis: I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King Jr.

iii) Meaning

People had certainly pushed for equality before in history, but the politicians & leaders always disregarded these requests, saying that it will happen later. King urges the leaders to take it upon themselves to make the change happen, and not to put it off.

In his speech, he states the following sentences :

1.0 Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

This phrase indicates inaction is compared to a luxury that civil rights workers must not purchase. From the source Study Guide for Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” Speech</ Democracy can be defined as "a political government either carried out directly by the people or by means of elected representatives of the people" ( It is derived from a Greek term meaning "power to the people". In his speech, King demands a right to power for all the people, especially those who have been discriminated against.
Reference link: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: “Now is the Time”


1.1 Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

In this phrase, King calls on his fellow African-Americans to rise from the valley to the sunlit path (higher up the mountain). To contrast segregation with racial justice, King evokes the contrasting metaphors of dark and desolate valley (of segregation) and sunlit path (of racial justice.)
Reference link: ’I Have a Dream’ holds 5 lessons for speechwriters

The phrase associated with containment and compliance includes the following: manacles (of segregation); chains (of discrimination) and even tranquilizing drug (of gradualism). These tenors, naturally, bespeak of the black historical experience—of physical slavery and subjugation; yet they also serve to reflect the ongoing cultural and social imprisonment of persecution and racial bigotry.

In the times of Martin Luther King, Jr., the colored people and white people were segregated, meaning they were treated unequally. African Americans had to sit in a certain section of the bus. They had to drink from separate drinking fountains. These were dark and desolate times for African Americans, but King brought hope and light to their lives.
Reference link: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: “Now is the Time”


1.2 Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

According to What Martin Luther King, Jr. has meant to my life,from the phrase, the lift the nation from the quicksands interprets (down in the valley) to the solid rock (higher up).This shows that Dr. King was a truly committed and patient leader for his people. He led them on a path toward racial justice in America in a very peaceful and noble manner. He was strong and relentless in his efforts and had such enormous, lasting impact on our society today.

From the source A Few Rhetorical and Stylistic Devices in the I Have a Dream-Speech
Martin Luther King Jr. uses a metaphor in his speech by comparing the way America needs to rid itself of racial injustice to raising a stone from quicksand to solid rock. Racial injustice is the quicksand that will bury the stone that represents our nation. By bringing the stone onto the solid rock, representing brotherhood, it no longer is in danger of sinking in the quicksand. Since then, segregation has ended for the most part. We have come a long way since the times of Martin Luther King, Jr. However, we still have work to do when it comes to racial discrimination.


1.3 Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

In fact, his allusions to historical documents were probably geared more towards the white listeners than towards the African Americans. It provided textual evidence of equality guaranteed but not granted. He wishes to create a “brotherhood” among Americans of all races. King is not speaking to just African Americans, but to the country as displayed in his statements.
Reference link: I Have a Dream

Moreover, this past of speech indicates we are all God’s children. The skin color we are born with makes up part of who we are. Yet, we were all created equally and justice belongs to us all. And now is the time for us all to make a difference.

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis after delivering his “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” address. Despite his death at the young age of 39, his legacy lives on.
Reference link: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: “Now is the Time”

In conclusion, King understood human nature. He understood the natural human tendency to relax once things are going well. He urges his followers not to relax. The fight is not over (anyone who’s played high school sports has probably heard something similar from a coach). The situation is urgent and to delay is death.The four sentences together start with the same phrase “Now is the time…” to make the listeners realize the urgent need to change the reality. The listeners have the sense of being driven to the edge by a kind of growing power—-they must take action at once!He emphasizes the need for change immediately. It is noticeable that each time Dr King repeats the phrase “Now is the time”, the applause and cheers from the crowd get louder, the repetition creating a crescendo of enthusiastic agreement.