Cole Crouch ’17 – I spent my eight weeks of summer ‘16 interning with Prof. Jeff Drury. We researched, co-wrote, and submitted an interpretative essay about Robert F. Kennedy’s “Statement on the Death of Reverend Martin Luther King, Rally in Indianapolis, Indiana” and his “Remarks at the Cleveland City Club.” Following King’s death, Kennedy delivered two speeches calling on our nation to adhere to nonviolence. We argued that both speeches, in conjunction, constructed a prophetic ethos that invested Kennedy with the authority to speak as a source of wisdom. In his prophetic voice, he used ultimate terms to exhort the audience to adhere to natural law, comprised of reason and justice, as a redemption for the sins of the nation that had condoned violence. Alongside our analysis, we explored Kennedy’s persona, the context that surrounded his speeches, and the legacy of his rhetoric.
Working together with Prof. Drury, I gained invaluable research and analytical skills useful for but not limited to the field of rhetoric. Using books and electronic sources made available through
Wabash College’s Lilly Library, we ably completed our research. Prof. Drury and I divided the workload throughout the process to maximize efficiency and productivity. Also with his guidance, I developed my outlining, writing, and editing skills. As fall semester rolls around, I will apply these skills to my extensive senior seminar paper required for rhetoric majors. Finally, I will apply my newfound knowledge of the entire research process as I possibly apply for fellowships and post-graduates studies.
In addition to the tangible skills I developed through this experience, I discovered my profound respect for Kennedy as a political leader. I have an eagerness to continue studying Kennedy as well as the issues he was fighting to conquer in his final years. Kennedy’s compassion and wisdom and empathy for his fellow human beings typify his rhetoric and legacy as one of the greatest leaders in American history. Following the 2012 shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, President Barack Obama said, “What Robert Kennedy understood, what Dr. King understood, what all our great leaders have always understood, is that wisdom does not come from tragedy alone or from some sense of resignation in the fallibility of man. Wisdom comes through the recognition that tragedies such as this are not inevitable and that we possess the ability to act and to change and to spare others the pain that drops upon our hearts.” Perhaps this quote best sums up Kennedy and the desperate need for such political leadership in our country today.