“We Shall Overcome” Rhetorical Analysis

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Brian Brennan Ms. Betsy Woods Eng. 111 RA 2 October 2013 “We Shall Overcome” Rhetorical Analysis Writer’s Reflection: I’m proud of the work I put into the essay. It took a while to go through the speech and pick out the rhetorical strategies, but made the paper easier. I thought the most effective and organized the paper was to break the speech up into three parts and dissect each part. I focused mostly on the main three rhetorical terms, logos, ethos and pathos, but identified others, such as anaphora which was used numerous of times. As I said, I’m happy with the effort put into this paper, and think I went by devising it the most organized way I could think of. On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered one of the most riveting and famous speeches in American history. The speech came right after a death of an African American protester in Selma, Alabama. The protest was over African American voting rights, as few African Americans could vote due to racist whites manipulating the voting system. African Americans shied away from voting because of fear of being harassed or absurd tests were given, such as stating the entire U.S Constitution. Johnson’s purpose of his speech was to convince Congress and Americans everywhere to pass his bill on voting reformation. To help make the speech more effective and convincing, Johnson used rhetorical strategies, such as ethos, logos, and pathos. Johnson’s first part of the speech uses rhetorical qualities that unify the audience and make them sympathize with the victims of voting rights. The speech starts off with anaphora and warrant strategies. The president repeats “I” and “Americans” throughout his first couple sentences and unifies the audience by stating, “I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy. I urge all Americans of both parties, Americans of all religions and
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