By Associate Professor Elaine B Richardson, Ronald L Jackson II
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Extra info for African American Rhetoric(s) Interdisciplinary Perspectives
With an African heritage steeped in oral traditions and the acceptance of transforming vocal communication, the Afro-American developed, consciously or subconsciously, a consummate skill in using language to produce his own alternate communication patterns to those employed by whites in the American situation. Communication between different ethnic and linguistic groups was difficult, but the almost universal African regard for the power of the spoken word contributed to the development of alternate communication patterns in the work songs, Black English, sermons, and Spirituals, with their dual meanings, one for the body and one for the soul.
Others commented on the extent to which English women were attracted to him. ). But included in Harper’s praise of delivery is praise for the substance, the power of “utterance,” as well. A review of an 1862 speech published in the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Christian Recorder lamented that words could not capture the force of Douglass’s delivery. The transcript, wrote the reviewer, represented a “fair view of the ideas, but no printed sentences can convey any adequate idea of the manner, the tone of voice, the gesticulation, the action, the round, soft, swelling pronunciation with which Frederick Douglass spoke, and which no orator we have ever heard can use with such grace, eloquence and effect as he” (qtd.
In Still, 1872, p. 780). Harper, who hardly looked the imagined part of slave, could have been one, and there she stood. Thus, Harper’s performance, as much as her ideas, argued against slavery, at least for some. To be sure, Harper suited her audiences’ rhetorical tastes. In response to a speech she delivered in the Reconstruction South, the editor of the Alabama Mobile wrote the following: The lecturer was then introduced as Mrs. F. E. W. Harper, from Maryland. Without a moment’s hesitation she started off in the flow of her discourse, which rolled smoothly and uninterruptedly on for nearly two hours.
African American Rhetoric(s) Interdisciplinary Perspectives by Associate Professor Elaine B Richardson, Ronald L Jackson II