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Martin Luther King got killed by a bullet at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. During the same night, Robert F. Kennedy announced the sad news to an African American crowd.
What are the characteristics of the historical canon?
Which biographical details about the author are relevant to the speech?
Kennedy, who was campaigning to get the Democratic Party`s presidential nomination, wanted to talk to the crowed in Indianapolis, Indiana. Even though he was worried of his safety, he went straight to the heart of Indianapolis`s ghetto. The crowed expected a campaign speech but instead they got offered grief and a speech which wasn`t written by a speech writer. Kennedy mentioned the death of his brother for the very first time in public.
What is the key message of the speech?
The key message is as following: In the United States something must change. There`s a lot of violence and hatred and way too less love for each other. Especially between the black and the white people. There are always people on both sides which are extreme into the hate between the skin colours but those are exceptions. The US should wake up and see that there`s no very big deal about loving the other skin colour.
And of course, a very big message is that he grieves about the loss of Martin Luther King too.
What is the atmosphere of the speech? What is the tone like?
The atmosphere seems to be heart breaking and intimate, this is probably because Kennedy wrote the speech on his own and the topic really touched him. It feels like he lets the crowed look inside of his mind and heart for a moment. He made this speech his very own by saying a lot of very personal details and showing compassion.
What is the meaning of the title?
The title gives like a very small summary of what has happened that evening. But since Kennedy isn`t just giving information it`s a statement. He does inform the crowd, but he mostly talks about what he thinks about it and what should happen next.
What is the relationship between the speaker and the audience?
The audience are some African American people which are black. The speaker is Kennedy who is a white senator of the US. So actually, the audience are the people who are “underneath” Kennedy because he is politically seen higher. They are the people who can vote for him so for Kennedy it is important to have a positive relationship.
How is the argumentation developed?
He first talks about what has happened and what Martin Luther King did during his life. Then he says that he can understand if the audience is mad or filled with hatred towards the white. After that he says that they should try to live like Martin Luther King said. He tries to show affection by making a link to his personal life as also to some Greek author. During the whole speech he tries to show them how they should live.
How convincing is the speaker in connecting form and content? How convincing is the speech all together?
Kennedy talks as if he understands exactly what the audience is feeling and that`s convincing, as the following quote shows.
“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with
hatred and distrust […], I can only say that I can feel in my own
heart the same kind of feeling.”
He also talks directly to the people and he gives them hope and understanding. And he talks of a “we”, so they know he`s meaning the white people as well.
Kennedy uses an epanalepsis at the beginning of paragraph three which makes the meaning of this sentence stronger.
The sentence “We have to make an effort” is used very often.
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