Countless have said that all men were created equal, but what about the prodigious black men of all time. Were King, Douglass, and Obama all created equal, or were these men chosen to be predestined for greatness? What constitutes “greatness” in politics? Names that come readily to mind, like Martin Luther King, Jr. , Frederick Douglass, and Barack Obama, are those who rose to inspire their countries in times of turmoil and change; so it seems that circumstances are just as important as character.
Their personal characteristics, and even morals, differed widely — but they were able to anticipate and articulate their nations’ needs and aspirations. One thing King, Douglass, and Obama, all three were involved with civil rights’ of all who were oppressed. These three men helped show America that a change was in order for all to feel free and all were created equal. Each of these three men became American Icons in many ways, such as King, Obama, and Douglass had prodigious speaking skills, leadership expertise, and opinionated dispositions.
Obama, Douglass and King are revered in the sense that they led a major change in American History. Through their speeches and movements to the world, Obama, Douglass, and King, have directed a movement of change and optimism through the heart and soul of America. All three men are eloquent speakers, such as Frederick Douglass was not only a powerful speaker but a master of subtleties of the talent. Those who heard him were surprised at the sharpness of his mind, his self-confidence and ease on the podium, noting especially his skill at humor, imitation, and sarcasm.
Such was his skill as a speaker that audiences began to doubt his credibility. Martin Luther King Jr. ’s public-speaking abilities, would become well-known as his importance grew in the Civil Rights Movement, developed slowly during his educational years, however, professors praised King for the powerful impression he made in public speeches. Barack Obama has awed the American people from the moment he ran for presidency. Many have written reviews about this great man such as “Last night our president delivered his first official state of the union address: he was brilliant.
Years from now speech instructors will be playing tapes of his speeches for their students; in fact; it’s probably happening already on many college campuses. Years from now books will be written compiling many of his speeches; some given even before he became one of the most historic of all our presidents. From here on in Barack Obama will be the standard by which great speakers are measured. He is undoubtedly one of the best public speakers ever” (Hackshaw). All great speakers share a common trait: They learned to be great by studying those that went before them.
Although people are enamored by the oratory skills of public figures from time to time, none was born with the ability to persuade or inspire. Speeches can be prepared for anyone, but it takes a person to be groomed or determined to succeed in those beliefs to make a person a great speaker. The inspirational voices came from wanting to make a change in history, the aspirations of each of the men, whether it was slavery abolishment, segregation, or economic decline. These great men made history in one way or another.
Great leaders such as Douglass, King, and Obama, do not sugar coat reality, they engage the heart, refuse to accept the status quo, and create a sense of urgency. In fact, many would say that this is the defining characteristic of real leaders. Douglass was considered one the great leaders of his time, not only did he campaign for the abolishment of slavery, he later began campaigning for women’s rights. Douglass was leading and gifted in the anti-slavery movement.
Born a slave, Douglass managed to educate himself, grasp the ideologies that allowed slavery to succeed in America, identified the way to free himself at a very early age and not only freed himself but helped others along the way. He set a determined goal of seeing American slavery abolished in his lifetime and he saw his goal accomplished. Douglass’s courage, intellectual honesty and independence propelled him from slave to orator, editor and intellectual leader. Average leaders focus on results, and that’s it. Good leaders focus also on the actions that will get the results.
And great leaders focus, in addition, on the reactions that will drive these behaviors. One emotion that shapes our behavior is anger, and Martin Luther King Jr. , knew of the power that came packed in this emotion. King had reason enough to be aggravated, time and again. He was physically threatened and attacked by prejudiced people, repeatedly jailed by state authorities, sometimes on trivial traffic violations, harassed by the FBI, and even criticized by fellow black leaders who favored more violent forms of resistance.
Peter Ling studies King’s leadership role during his fight for harmony and justice and states, “There were many leaders in the civil rights struggle, but Martin Luther King was more than just the most conspicuous and eloquent among them” (Ling). President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, showed the country why he is without question the best individual to lead this country in this time in our history. He was eloquent, forceful, realistic, honest, and inspirational. Only those people who watched through their masks of hate can say otherwise.
There were many highpoints for me and below are some quotes that were particularly good. “Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency, which embodies their strength” (Transcript: Obama’s first State of the Union speech). Great leaders are not passive; leaders are active and are unwilling to accept to the circumstances.
Leaders are impatient, in a good way and refuse to just sit by and let things take their natural course. Many have a sense of urgency and communicate it very well. Each of these men has an opinionated personality. This is what made all three men great. Many people may ask, “What is an opinionated personality? ” An opinionated personality is considered, someone who isn’t afraid to give their personal opinion. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s just someone that doesn’t stay quiet, if a person doesn’t agree with something.
One great example is when Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his “I have a Dream Speech,” King wrote, “Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, o the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured (Shelly). Frederick Douglass voiced his opinions on slavery, no matter the cost, such is shown in this excerpt, “I have taken a sober view of the present anti-slavery movement. I am sober, but not hopeless. There is no denying, for it is everywhere admitted, that the anti-slavery question is the great moral and social question now before the American people” (Koeller).
Douglass, King, and Obama have all the characteristics of men who believe in the things they speak about. Their opinionated voice resonates with all Americans even from the grave. Many Americans have listened to the speeches performed by all of the three men and felt the emotion that was made to pull your emotions to the front. President Barack Obama is probably one of the most opinionated people, but is not all Presidents or politicians for that matter. Their opinions and views are what gets them elected into government positions.
Out of all the speeches given by these three great men, the emotions and personal interests come out and make people feel that a change is needed. Obama came at a time when America was eager for a change, but King and Douglass had to suggest the change, for all white Americans were content with the world. Most of us, being United States citizens, would like to believe that everyone in this country is living in conditions of utmost freedom and equality. Although according to the constitution this is true, anyone who has ever been the victim of oppression knows not to take equality for granted.
Our society has slowly grown to accept the different types of people that live in our country; it is now a lot less common to see people s rights such as freedom and equality being abused. This would not be possible without the perseverance of many great men and women, who have strived, against all odds to make those beliefs come true. Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. , would never have dreamed that one day a black man would become president. The day that President Barack Obama was sworn into office was a great stride for all black Americans. This showed that the world today had hanged and was not the same it used to be in the 1800’s or even in 1950.
It takes a lot to stand up to adversity and make a stand, to voice your beliefs in front of millions who disagree with the color of your skin. Obama said it best in this quote, “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America” (Johnson). Through great leadership comes great responsibility and King, Douglass, and Obama, all took on this responsibility to make the world a better place for all Americans.
Today we are a United Nation, of all races and colors, all having equal rights. Some still have trouble letting go of those beliefs that one race is more dominate than the other, but it has almost become a thing of the past. America will go through many more changes in the future, it is exciting to set and dwell on the times and changes to come. Will Obama hold up to his promises? Has Obama accomplished enough of his goals for re-election? Will gay marriage be accepted? These are the questions people ask today. Which change will be coming in the future?