Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Barbara Jordan’s “1976 DNC Keynote Address” Analysis

Fig. 1 Barbara Charline Jordan delivering the Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention on July 12 1976.
In 1976 Barbara Jordan stood in front of the National Convention as the first African American to deliver the Keynote Address. The address she delivered underscored the unrealized principles of a Democratic Party that would that would, in the end, call presidency in 1976. The keynote address was not only a historic first but the realization of a moral imperative that Martin Luther King Jr. had been urging on the country a decade earlier. Barbara’s speech addressed the themes of unity, equality, accountability, and American ideals. She states that the nation must form a 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.” Her speech was so successful at the convention that it caused the audience to support Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. Barbara’s symbolic use of language created participatory roles for her listeners to want to form a national community that must be done as individuals, and she has confidence that the Democratic Party can lead the way to this national community.

Numerous qualities contribute to Jordan’s effectiveness as a speaker and there are several examples of rhetoric in the keynote address that she delivered. Barbara Jordan creates unifying images in her discourse by explaining to the audience how the future could be if the United States was “bound together by common spirit, sharing in a common endeavor” but if we don’t become this way then we will become a divided nation. But the only way this can be done is if “we restore the belief that we share a sense of national community, that we share a common endeavor.” Jordan states that we must come together and we must not “flee from the future” or “reject society.” Jordan also reasons with her audience by stating how difficult it will be for everyone to form a national community. But she also gives her audience the responsibility of becoming a unified country because the country will suffer if not everyone takes part.

When Barbara addresses the reason as to why people become democratic she explains the point that when immigrants came to the United States in the 19th century could identify with the Democratic Party because Barbara Jordan states that the Democratic Party feel that they are a “heterogeneous party made up of Americans of diverse backgrounds” and she also states that the Democratic Party believes that “the people are the source of all governmental power; that the authority of the people is to be extended, not restricted.” But she explains that the only the only way the authority of the people can be extended is by providing each citizen with every opportunity to participate in the management of the government. This can only be accomplished by the government removing the obstacles “which would block individual achievement --obstacles emanating from race, sex, economic condition. The government must remove them, seek to remove them.”

Barbara Jordan is very effective political speaker as she uses effective language in her speech and there are many examples of rhetoric in her speech that was given. Such examples of rhetoric include: How Jordan creates unifying images in her discourse by explaining how the United States can become a unified country if we share a common spirit. Her speech also uses symbolic images for the audience to show what the United States could become. She also reasons with her audience by stating the point that “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.” So, Barbara reasons with her audience by understanding that coming together as one nation is not an easy task. By Barbara Jordan asking for, not just the audience but everyone in general and “each person do his or her part” and she also states that if not everyone does their part that “all of us are going to suffer” because the American ideal is shared by everyone.

Works Cited
Jordan, Barbara Charline."1976 Democratic National Convention Keynote
Address." American Rhetoric. Michael E. Eidenmuller, 2001-2010. Web. 4 Oct.

Works Consulted
"American Rhetoric Top 100 Speeches." American Rhetoric. American Rhetoric, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
Scarborough, Megan. "A Voice That Could Not Be Stilled." Utexas.
October 9 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.