Rhetorical Analysis of "The Mexican-American and the Chruch" Speech

1126 Words Dec 21st, 2010 5 Pages
Stefano Rivolta

March 10, 2010

Contextual Analysis:
“The Mexican-American and the Church”

The impact of one single speech can essentially affect the entire world. Granted, there are different degrees of impact felt: those present at the speech, those who watched/heard the actual speech from somewhere else, those who heard some things about it from someone else, and so on and so forth. As the speaker’s message experiences a sort of ripple affect, it calms and becomes less and less dynamic. The main point, or gist, of the speech endures but potentially valuable details; those pertaining to the speaker himself, the location, the timing, current social, political, and economic climates, flake off. Understanding the context
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Chavez had to persuade mass numbers of Catholics, as well as Protestants, who were one of the movement’s first allies. (UCLA) Chavez’s spiritual symbolism helped transform an economic justice campaign into a massive movement. Young religious activists flocked to the UFW cause, and churches boosted support for the union’s nationwide grape boycott. Chavez always referred to his now legendary 1968 decision to refrain from eating to show the power of nonviolence as a “fast,” and not as a hunger strike. Chavez felt his movement was best communicated through universal religious/spiritual terms. (ChavezFoundation.org) It was during this spiritual fast that Chavez had prepared “The Mexican-American and the Church” speech delivered on March 8, 1968 at the Second Annual Mexican Conference in Sacramento, California. (AmericanRhetoric.com)


The location of the speech, Sacramento was rather sacred ground (no pun intended) in terms of Chavez’s movement. The 1966 march that put Chavez on the national stage with the motto “Perigrinacion, Penitencia, and Revolucion”--“Pilgrimage, Penitence, and Revolution,” began in Delano during Lent and ended in Sacramento on Easter Sunday. Chavez mentions the small city of Delano in the speech as, where “the Church has been involved with the poor in

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