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  • 1. Robert Kennedy: MLKAssassination Speech
  • 2. Turbulent Times• November 22, 1963 – John F. Kennedy assassinated• Spring of 1963 – Birmingham civil rights protests
  • 3. Turbulent Times• 1967 – Deadly race riots in Newark and Detroit• Vietnam War escalation and protests/riots (Kent State shootings – (1970)
  • 4. Turbulent Times• April 4, 1968 - Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated• June 6, 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy assassinated
  • 5. PURPOSE
  • 6. Summary for More Accurate Analysis• In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, brother of John F. Kennedy, is giving a speech addressing residents of an African-American ghetto in Indianapolis.• In honor of Dr. King, the speech consists of how he would want love and compassion instead of hatred. • This came as a shock to those involved in his campaign. Rather than a rousing, passion filled speech typical to someone on an election trail, Kennedy offered short, passionate remarks for peace• Considered one of the greatest public addresses of modern times.• Pushed for acceptance, love and a greater peace rather than an uprising over the death of a national hero• Giving this speech he draws a comparison to the death of his brother John F. Kennedy• Quoted the Greek poet Aechylus to teach us to “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
  • 7. Analysis of Ethos and Pathos• Pathos: • Robert Kennedy is trying to instill a feeling of compassion and love. • By doing this, he wanted to show the life’s work of Dr. King and that an uproar would undo this work and prove it was meaningless • He’s trying to prevent an uprising and feelings of hatred. • He is trying to prevent rebellion by quoting a Greek philosopher . This utilizes precedence to teach those of the modern era a lesson learned by those of an older era• These ideas demonstrate and illustrate the pathos of this speech
  • 8. Analysis of Ethos and Pathos• Ethos • Robert Kennedy is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. • This gives him the authority to present the speech to this audience. • His brother was assassinated therefore Robert Kennedy believes that he has experienced an event similar to what the audience is going through • Thus engaging the audience emotionally • He is connecting two national tragedies • This is necessary because his audience is primarily African- American
  • 9. Alternate Rhetorical Strategies• Kennedy used the Rhetorical strategy of negation by explaining to the audience what the goal was not:“What we need in the United States is not division; what weneed in the United States is not hatred; what we need in theUnited States is not violence and lawlessness…”• He completed the statement by explaining what the goal was:“…but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward oneanother, and a feeling of justice toward those who still sufferwithin our country, whether they be white or whether they beblack.”
  • 10. Alternate Rhetorical Strategies• Kennedy compared the assassination of his brother, JFK, to to the assassination of MLK:“For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with -- befilled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act,against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel inmy own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of myfamily killed, but he was killed by a white man.” • RFK made the comparison with the goal of calming heated race relations. • His own personal experience gave him authority to make the comparison.
  • 11. Effectiveness• The speech was immediately effective - there were no riots in Indianapolis, the place where the speech was given.• The speech was not heard by many in other cities, and therefore riots took place in over 100 cities – including New York and Chicago. This lends credit to the effectiveness of the speech where it was given.• The long term effectiveness of the speech resulted in continued improvements in race relations over the next few decades.• Robert Kennedy’s own assassination on June 6, 1968, eight weeks after Martin Luther King’s assassination, would cause people to look back on his speech and be further motivated to improve on race relations.
  • 12. “But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.” Robert F. Kennedy - April 4th, 1968