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Using of Rherorical Strategies of John Kennedy

Updated April 21, 2022
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Using of Rherorical Strategies of John Kennedy essay

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Demographics is usually being the first thing for a speaker to carefully consider with because it might influence the performance and the following results of delivering a speech. From the location of Kennedy’s speech, the heart of the African-American ghetto, we could simply assume that most of the audience of his speech were African-American and the people of Indianapolis. Because of the background and dramatic influence of his announcing information, the word choices and the content of his speech should be very carefully prepared and delivered; otherwise, he might encounter with unexpected accidents by his audience.

Kennedy clearly and smartly defines the bridge between White Americans and African American. He adapted to cultural diversity very well. From his speech, he did not only talk about African Americans, but also talk about Whites and Greeks. He used examples captured from Aeschylus and Greeks to strengthen his arguments.

Kennedy clearly understood the feelings of his audience when they listened to this miserable information, but he had made a great effort to alleviate their pains. As transcript stated “For those of you who are Black, and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust of the injustice of such an act against all White people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of felling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a White man” (“Announcing the Death of Martin Luther King”). He knew how his audience feel at that moment, and he knew how to engage them and make them feel well by using his own example to shorten the distance. He also knew how inequality between Whites and African American drove the conflicts as well. Therefore, his way of rhetorical choices was sort of effective and resonant.

As what Chuang and Hart explained that “virtual time, which expresses emotions through rhythm” (Chuang & Hart, 185) and “illusion of life rhetorical perspective provides a framework for the analysis of the interdependent function of musical and lyrical elements that communicate messages of both content and emotion” (Chuang & Hart, 184). Even though the whole speech is not long compared to other announcements, Kennedy did a great job in managing time as a constraint and a resource in his speech. He used this time to express his regret for MLK’s death, and also called for peace and equality.

From my personal standpoint, I will believe that Kennedy’s ethos was very great, powerful, and persuasive. As an American political and lawyer, he was very brave to stand out to provide this speech. In addition, he was very good at distinguishing the difference between two different group of audiences. In addition, he provided a great relationship between him and his audience that one of his family members was also been killed by a White American. Because of this action, he built a great credibility to this audience as “Scales for the measurement of ethos” clarifies that “in recent years ethos, sometimes referred to as credibility or prestige” (McCroskey, 65). For me, I would like to describe him as a hero at that moment because he kindly saved lots of lives in Indianapolis, as transcript stated “Although all major cities had riots, Indianapolis remained calm after RFK’s speech” (Kennedy, “Announcing the Death of Martin Luther King”). Thousands of audiences who had listened to his speech would treat him as a redeemer because most of audience were very heartbroken. Therefore, from my end, I totally believe that Kennedy’s ethos in this speech is relevant, powerful, and persuasive.

Works Cited

  1. James C. McCroskey (1966) Scales for the measurement of ethos, 33:1, 65-72, DOI: 10.1080/03637756609375482
  2. Lisa M. Chuang & John P. Hart (2008) Suburban American Punks and the Musical Rhetoric of Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia”, Communication Studies, 59:3, 183-201, DOI: 10.1080/10510970802257499
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