And when it comes to speeches, I have heard some of the masters. As a child attending NAACP conventions each summer with my parents and Johnita and Lydia, my sisters, I treasured opportunities to hear addresses by executive director Benjamin L. Hooks, a supreme orator. One year, Senator Ted Kennedy created a joyous uproar in the banquet hall when he ended his address with the last lyrics from James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." At speeches like that, you get goosebumps. Your eyes fill with tears. A good speech is an act of magic. Dr. King's speeches helped electrify a nation, and the world.
Since both of my parents are civil rights activists and writers, I grew up with their speeches, too. My father, attorney John Due, recently addressed a funeral for Miami civil rights activist Johnnie M. Parris Marsan; and Dad quoted from a Barack Obama speech in Selma calling for the rise of the post-civil rights generation—which Obama called the "Joshua generation"—who must complete the work of Moses, leading their people to the Promised Land.
Sometimes a speech presents its case so well that you have no choice but to act.
March. Vote. Contribute. The speech compels you to do something.
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