validated them as being an understandable reaction by stating that the audience might “be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge,” but he invoked the example of Dr. King, and he turned the crowd’s choice whether to erupt or not into a choice for the nation as
L03 ASSIGNMENT 3 well. He suggested that America could either allow the events to further racially divide the country, or follow the lead of Martin Luther King Jr. by replacing those feelings of rage with tolerance, compassion and love for one another. In terms of demographics, this was a very effective choice for Kennedy’s overwhelmingly black audience who all shared a great respect and appreciation for Dr. King and his dedication to fighting for equal rights. Although Kennedy was constrained by limited time, an unpredictable audience and their negative feelings about whites in America, and the need to formally address the tragic murder of a prominent leader in the black community, he converted the situation into an opportunity to bring his audience together for a greater purpose of peace, compassion, tolerance, and equality in America. Kennedy knew that his Indianapolis audience that evening would be predominantly made up of black people from impoverished and underserved neighborhoods. Blacks had already planned to attend Kennedy’s campaign speech that day before learning of King’s death because he had become a beacon of hope for equality and racial unity throughout his political career (Warrenburg, 2009). Blacks had both self-interest and personal interest in attending the event because Kennedy had the potential to become the next president of the United States and therefore would have a huge impact on their daily life. Although the 1960’s had already brought forth major legislation promoting equal rights and treatment for people of color, racism and discrimination against Blacks was still very common (Warrenburg, 2009). Kennedy was frank and did not shy away from this reality during his speech. Despite the obvious cultural differences
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