The Audience and Occasion of RFK’s Remarks
Delivered in a risky situation, Robert F. Kennedy’s speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was a historical speech that exhibited how a speaker could make strategic decision to confront certain type of audience and occasion. When King passed away, Kennedy was about to deliver a campaign speech in a predominantly black district in Indianapolis. He encountered a challenge because the majority of his audience could be upset to hear the news about King’s death. In this case, a complete comprehension on his audience and the occasion of the speech was pivotal to pass this challenge.
At the beginning of the speech, Kennedy modified the occasion of his supposedly campaign rally into a eulogy. He began his speech by delivering the news about King’s death. He praised the man who died by saying, “Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings”. In this case, praising the deceased is a key element of a eulogy (Dennis 707) that defined Kennedy’s speech as a eulogy.
Having waited for almost an hour in a cold weather just to listen devastating news, the audience that consisted of mostly African American started to express disrespectful remarks. (“The Speech” 65) Kennedy seemed to understand this situation and the possibility of riot so he…show more content… After he identified himself as the same human who experienced loss just like his audience, the word “I” seemed to be no longer relevant. The rest of the speech was about “we” or “us”. Indeed, this strategy is particularly clever because it strengthened his ethos as a caring and selfless leader. Using “we” and “us” made an impression that the deliberative part of the speech was not a statement made by an individual for a personal