Rhetorical Analysis Of We Shall Overcome By Lyndon Baines Johnson

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In his speech “We Shall Overcome,” Lyndon Baines Johnson addresses Congress on his proposed Civil Rights Bill, arguing against the deliberate oppression and denial of the most basic rights to African American citizens because of the color of their skin. Johnson unites his audience by appealing to American patriotism in order to create an image of a strong united group of people, himself included, that must fight for their common values. He creates a common hero of the oppressed African American people and highlights the great magnitude of their suffering in order to convince his audience that they must be helped. He concludes by directly calling Americans to action by creating an “us versus them” mindset, establishing a positive tone towards …show more content…
Johnson introduces his argument by calling for a sense of American spirit and bringing himself down from his status of a great leader to the level of one of the people in order to emotionally call the American citizens to action, together as one united nation, to fight the discrimination occurring in the country. He highlights the idea that “there is no Negro problem,” “there is no Southern problem,” and “there is no Northern problem,” there is only “an American problem” (Johnson). By using the anaphora “there is no..” followed by groups of people, Johnson emphasize the idea that the issue of equal rights does not belong with one group of people, but their great country as a whole. He therefore unifies all Americans of different groups and backgrounds under one common identity, pleading that they put aside their differences and come together to solve the problem plaguing the nation. By connecting them under one common goal, he not only evokes patriotism, but causes his audience to see that their great country is faced with a threat to its basic principle that “all men are created equal” causing them to condemn the mistreatment of black Americans (Johnson). After revealing his stand on …show more content…
He expresses his belief that the black man is “the real hero of this struggle” and through “his courage to risk safety” he makes progress through “his persistent bravery, and his faith in American democracy” (Johnson). This description with the use of “courage” and “faith” reveal a venerable, admiring tone towards African Americans, highlighting idea that they deserve the same equal treatment and rights as a white person. The words “hero” and “courage” connote images of an American soldier risking their life to fight for equality, justice, and freedom for all American citizens. This portrayal of blacks as loyal citizens who risk everything, just as soldiers do, to fulfill the American value of equality creates a common hero in them, convincing the audience that they should join their fight. Following their establishment as a hero, Johnson reveals the struggles that they have been faced with to emphasize their need for the assistance by a unified America. Johnson consistently reiterates the fact that “more than 100 years” have passed “since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal” (Johnson). Johnson consistently reiterates the fact that despite the Emancipation proclamation and despite equality being promised and the passing of “a hundred years” nothing has

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