What we need

ロバート·ケネディ大統領選候補/大統領予備選挙演説『キング牧師暗殺』
米国, 1968年, ロバート·ケネディ

Some speeches are painstakingly prepared and rehearsed. (painstaking = careful)

Others are extemporaneous, which means without preparation.

On April 4th 1968, Robert F Kennedy, a candidate for that year’s American presidential election, was campaigning in Indiana. When he heard that Martin Luther King, the civil rights leader, had been assassinated, Kennedy announced the news at a rally.

“Addressing a shocked black gathering in Indianapolis, RFK gave extemporaneously the most moving and powerful speech of his life,” wrote Ted Sorensen in 2008. (Sorensen had been a key adviser to RFK and his late brother, President John F Kennedy.)

Although the speech was extemporaneous, it was carefully structured. In this passage (at 3:01), Kennedy uses lists of three items to create a powerful effect. This is sometimes called ‘the rule of three’.

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What we need in the United States is not division

What we need in the United States is not hatred

What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness

But is love and wisdom

and compassion toward one another

a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country

whether they be white or whether they be black.

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Note

Two months after making this speech, Robert F Kennedy was assassinated on June 5th 1968.

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