The speaker of “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” is civil rights activists Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
When the speech was delivered, King was already an established leader of the Civil Rights Movement and had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for advocating nonviolence during the struggle for equal rights in the US.
The speaker alludes to his involvement and achievements in the Civil Rights Movement on several occasions, particularly when he relates the story of when he nearly died several years ago: “If I had sneezed – If I had sneezed I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.”; “If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.”
Furthermore, the speaker gains legitimacy and credibility by alluding to “I Have a Dream”, his most famous speech delivered during the March on Washington in 1963: “…I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.”
To show the audience that he understands the challenges of a protest ...