Thursday, February 23, 2012

Seven Great Speeches

Hi eighth graders, here are links to the TEXT and AUDIO of your speeches for this week's homework.  I thought I'd posted this a few days ago, but I didn't, so I apologize for not posting it until now.  Below the links, you'll find your assignment.

TEXT AUDIO 1933—Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Speech: FDR encouraged the American people when they were at their lowest—in the depths of the Great Depression.  In this speech, he famously declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
TEXT AUDIO 1940—Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “The Arsenal of Democracy”: World War II was already raging in Europe, but the U.S.A. was trying to avoid getting involved.  In a “fireside chat” that Americans heard on their radios, FDR described the dangers of Nazism and the need for the U.S.A. to support its allies in the fight against Germany.
TEXT AUDIO 1961—John F. Kennedy’s First Inaugural Speech: As JFK became president, the U.S.A. was in a Cold War with the communist Soviet Union.  He spoke about the need for freedom and democracy around the world, saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
TEXT AUDIO 1967—Martin Luther King Jr.’s “A Time to Break Silence”: Delivered at Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. King’s speech criticized the Vietnam War and argued that civil rights leaders should oppose the war.
TEXT VIDEO 1968—Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”: On the night before he was shot, Dr. King called for more commitment to equality for all races.  He described how he’d nearly been killed ten years earlier and how he was thankful for the life he’d had.
TEXT AUDIO 1983—Ronald Reagan’s “The Evil Empire”: Reagan was deeply committed to defeating communism and ending the Cold War, and he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”  He also told his audience—a conservative Christian group—that he would fight to end abortion and give greater opportunities for religious expression in public schools.
TEXT AUDIO 1995—Hillary Clinton’s “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights”: Clinton, the wife of then-president Bill Clinton, went to China to call for greater respect for women, who face injustice to the point of forced prostitution and torture in some countries.

Then, explore your speech in a few steps. 
1)  First read through your speech just to get a sense of what it’s about.  This is a get-to-know-you read.
2)  Then listen to it.  Listen to it with members of your family or a friend, if you’d like.  Don’t forget that it was a performance in front a live (and probably large) audience. 
3)  Now you’re starting to get a feel for the speech.  Read it again, but more critically this time.  Now you start to engage in serious historical analysis.  Take notes on what parts interest you; what parts you don’t understand; what parts you want to know more about.  Think about the questions below as you take notes.  You won’t necessarily be able to answer all of them, but they will help you develop a feel for your speech as a historical document. 

A. Placing the document in its historical context
1. Who wrote it? What do you know about this person?
2. Where and when was it written?
3. Why was it written?
4. Who was it written for? This is called the “audience.” What do you know about this audience?
B. Understanding the document
1. What are the key words and what do they mean?
2. What point is the author trying to make? Summarize the thesis.
3. What evidence does the author give to support this thesis.
4. What assumptions does the author make?

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