Speeches By: Eugene Mantilla

What are Speeches? Speeches are defined as "a formal address or discourse delivered to an audience." Throughout history, speeches were used to address a certain audience about problems, accomplishments, etc. This form of non-violence was particularly used during the Civil Rights Era to address the white Americans about the segregation of blacks. As this method of communication has had its best and worst moments, the Civil Rights Era had the most impactful.

The History of Speeches: The popular spark of speeches started around 1787 when Jupiter Hammon wrote a novel and told a speech to address all of the black people of New York. From this speech, people started to use this non-violent act further on but never were populariZed until the late 1800s by african American leader frederick douglass.
Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) was an anti-slavery campaigner, author and orator. His works reminded the nation of slave traditions and the severity of it.
"... [America's Fourth of July] celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages...” - Frederick Douglass, in 'What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?'

Frederick Douglass - Who He Was: As the most influential African American leader of the 1800s, Frederick Douglass questioned and protested about civil rights and became the most "world-renowned anti-slavery activist" of his time. Born a slave on 1818 in Maryland, Douglass, as a child, was one of the very few slaves who were taught to read and write. Escaping by age 20, Douglass began writing autobiographies and newspapers about his experiences and the abolishment of slavery. His anti-slavery movement changed the whole country, as many blacks across the nation had a long awaited leader and hero to look up to.

Decades later towards the ratification of Brown vs. Board of Education, the black Americans' awareness about their civil rights began to blow up. Many leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Jo Ann Robinson had stood against this injustice and led movements such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. What really started this boycott was the power of Dr. King's speeches. Clarence B. Jones, a former advisor and close friend of Dr. King, stated, "...I had never heard anyone speak with such extraordinary eloquence and power" when listening to his speeches at churches.

After this, King led the 1963 March on Washington where he gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. As he presented one of the most famous speeches ever given, he spoke having dreams and visions of a future where both blacks and whites will live in peace. His most famous line, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed — “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal'" delivers a strong message of how this vision of his could be a reality to all Americans, whether white and black.

Personal Opinion: As I was making this, it struck me how much Dr. King actually did in his lifetime. Back to when I was in third grade, my teachers showed me the "I Have a Dream" speech. It was very impactful for me because this man who a whole day of no school was dedicated towards was a person of incredible honor. Not only has he gave one of the greatest speeches of all time, but also led the Civil Rights Movement which would eventually lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Before this, I haven't asked myself questions like what was the first speech regarding segregation, who Frederick Douglass was and what he did and what impact had the Montgomery Bus Boycott had created for the Civil Rights Movement. This was a very impactful journey for me and I hope discriminations today will cease in both whites and blacks holding hands in peace.

Works Cited

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