The Speech by Barbara Jordon At The National Convention

In 1976 Barbara Jordan delivered her well-known speech at the National Convention. Her speech was devoted to the perspectives of a Democratic party and its unrealized principles. One of the most remarkable features about this speech was the fact that it was not purely historical reconsideration, rather it was an appeal to the ideas of Martin Luther King Jr., which he outlined one decade before, created in macro-genre of epideictic rhetoric. Such American ideals, as unity and equity, were again on the top of the discussion in her speech. She managed to transmit her understanding of the way, how American nation should form this willingness to “share the responsibility for upholding the common good” and that everyone “must define the “common good” and begin again to shape a common future.” (Jordan, 2001, p. 2). Jordan’s speech was so impressive and convincing that the audience was ready to support Jimmy Carter and his presidential campaign. The speaker managed to find such symbols in her speech, which could contribute to influencing the listeners, their ambition to form national community, consisting of individuals and she passed her assumption that exactly the Democratic Party could lead to this national community.

Analyzing the speech by Barbara Jordan, it is necessary to admit that he used specific rhetoric approaches and strategies to make her speech more effective and convincing. He paid a lot of attention to creating special images, which she used to present the audience her views about the potential future of the country, if it were “bound together by common spirit, sharing in a common endeavor”. (Jordan, 2001, p. 2). It is generally clear that the strength of any nation is in its unity and ability to move in the same direction, but Jordan made this especially stressing that it is not correct to run away from the future, rejecting the society. Such argumentation is rather strong, as it makes each listener feel that he is not taking the decision only for himself, only for now, but this decision is utterly important for the whole nation, for the whole country and its people and their future. Jordan openly admits that formation of national community is not an easy task, still people should be ready to meet this challenge and be ready to take not only some kind of individual responsibility, but be ready to stand for the rights of the whole society, for prosperity of the country, which is unique and needs participation of each single citizen.

Barbara uses simple language and simple explanations, for example talking about the reasons, why people become democratic, she talks about the moment, when immigrants started to arrive to America in the 19th century, they could be associated with the Democratic Party, because the Democratic Party feel that they are “heterogeneous party made up of Americans of diverse backgrounds” (Jordan, 2001, p. 2). Another strong argument, used by Jordan, is her statement that the Democratic Party provides the possibility for the people to become a real source of the governmental power, which means that people would gain authorities, instead of being restricted in their rights. It is important that the speaker doesn’t simply come out with some vivid statements, rather provides explanations for them, for example here Jordan underlines that the only possibility to pass this kind of authority to people is to involve each individual into the management of the government. This is possible under the condition that the government takes the necessary steps to remove the obstacles, “which would block individual achievement –obstacles emanating from race, sex, economic condition. The government must remove them, seek to remove them.” (Jordan, 2001, p. 2). The speech of Barbara Jordon proved to be so convincing thanks to the usage of rhetoric examples, which make her speech much stronger and clearer to all listeners. He uses the images, which help her to explain the notions, which she wants to make closer for everybody, she talks about generally accepted notions, common spirit of the United States, about the future of the country and its potential, which could be seen with the help of certain images. At the same time she reveals her ability to point out the main things, putting the priorities in the correct order “Let there be no illusions about the difficulty of forming this national community. It’s tough, difficult, not easy. But a spirit of harmony will survive in America only if each of us remembers that we share a common destiny; if each of us remembers, when self-interest and bitterness seem to prevail, that we share a common destiny.” (Jordan, 2001, p. 2).  This approach makes the audience believe the speaker, as if she didn’t acknowledge that coming together is a really difficult task, this would be much harder to make people follow her point of view and be convinced of its correctness. Idealization, without acknowledging all the difficult points and obstacles, has usually little to no effect upon the listeners. Even the phrase “all of us are going to suffer” doesn’t seem to have any negative connotation and impression, it sounds uniting and supporting, making people believe that each of them has his important role to play for improving of the future of the country, where he is living and where his children would most probably live. Jordan is able to sound authoritative and confident because she is speaking constantly from her personal point of view, using “I” statements is thus vitally important for the whole message of the speaker. Applying such rhetorical devices as anaphora and repetition, Jordan aims at sounding strong and convinced.

Overall, the speech by Barbara Jordon of 1976 was an important breakthrough in the history of politics of the United States; the speaker managed to use rhetoric components and operate with images and concepts in such a way that her audience experienced trust towards the speaker and was ready to perceive the main ideas, expressed by Jordan.

References:

American Rhetoric Top 100 Speeches.”(2010).  American Rhetoric. American Rhetoric

Frye, J. K., Krohn, F. B. (1977). An analysis of Barbara Jordan’s 1976 keynote address. Volume 5, Issue 2

Jordan, B. C. (2001).”1976 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address.” American Rhetoric.

Scarborough, M. (2010). “A Voice That Could Not Be Stilled.” Utexas

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 1, 2020]

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