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Running head: RHETORICAL ANALYSIS 1 Rhetorical Analysis of Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” Rae Stewart Methodist University 23 rd February 2019 Dr Strickland
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS 2 Abstract Maya Angelou faced terrible racism as a young African-American female in the 1920s and 1930s. This resulted in some of her best writing, including “Champion of the World” from the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She uses many different methods of delivering a powerful message to her readers and allowing her readers to reflect on what she has said and how segregation was back in the 1920s and 1930s. Keywords : racism, champion, Maya Angelou, segregation
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS 3 Rhetorical Analysis of Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in 1928 in Saint Louis. When she was very young, her parents split and she moved to Arkansas to live with her grandmother. She faced terrible racism as a young African-American female in the 1920s and 1930s. During a visit Angelou had with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend raped her. Her uncles then hunted him down and killed him. This incident led her to stop speaking out and she spent much of her childhood barely speaking to people because she believed that when she spoke out, people got hurt. She began studying dancing and acting but became a mother at 16 to her son. Angelou’s acting career became apparent in the 1950s as she was in many musicals. In the 1960s, Angelou became involved with the Civil Rights Movement, working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Champion of the World” is chapter nineteen in Angelou’s autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It is about a boxing match that Joe Louis, the “Brown Bomber” is defending his title in against Primo Carnera, a white boxer. Louis was a hero to black people because he represented hope for the African American community, allowing them to believe that they “were the strongest people in the world.” (Angelou, 1969, p.107). The boxing match is a representation for the fight for racial pride in a society. The store in which everyone gathers to listen to the match is considered a ‘safe’ place for their community as Angelou (1969) states that “The last inch of space was filled, yet people continued to wedge themselves along the walls of the Store.” (p.104). Angelou aims to demonstrate how important the boxing match to the entire African American race and to describe the desperation and solidarity of African Americans in a violent and racist Southern United States. She also aims to encourage people to unite under oppression and preserve their cultural pride, despite powerful behavior aimed to defeat certain groups and to make it clear that no race is superior to any other. It puts emphasis on the fight and

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