A Speech Form and Content.

King’s purpose was to educate, to inspire, and to inform: basically, to bring weight to the issue of civil rights. Therefore, he had to accomplish an emotional appeal and a logical appeal at the same time, and to galvanize his supporters and to convince his detractors. Following his prepared text, which consisted mainly of reasoned arguments appealing to logic, Dr. King progressed into a more emotional, partly improvised description of his dream of a racially indifferent country.

Barack Obama’s victory speech after being elected President of the United States came in a different context in a Chicago park in 2008. The message of his speech is more general than one tied down by any specific movement or thought in America. Like King’s, Obama’s speech inspires a vision of the future. however, this vision pertains more to equality across many different spectrums. For instance, he says, “It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled” (Obama). Like any President would do, Obama generalizes the struggle for equality to many different socially-constructed distinctions between people in American society. And, instead of maintaining some of these political distinctions, Obama erases them, saying, “We are, and always will be, the United States of America” (Obama).

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A common feature of both speeches, making them indications of shared purpose, is the inspiration of a unified vision. In King, he makes use of the collective pronoun “we” to make every audience member feel as though he has an equal stake in this issue as anyone else. He says, “We cannot walk alone… We cannot turn back” (King).

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