On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was returning home from a local department store where she worked. After the bus had picked up too many passengers, the bus driver demanding that four black passengers give up their seats for the white passengers that did not have a seat (www.biography.com). Three of the African American passengers on the bus got up and exited the bus, but Rosa Parks refused. Eventually, the police were called, and Rosa Parks was arrested. Rosa Parks would later claim that she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.
Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama to James and Leona McCauley. Several years after she was born, her parents divorced (www.history.com). Rosa Parks attended school up until she was a junior in high school when bother her mother and grandmother become ill, and she dropped out of school to take care of them. In 1932, when Rosa was 19 years old, she married Raymond Parks. With his support, Rosa managed to earn her high school degree just a year later (www.biography.com). Life for the couple was very normal up until Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus.
Life became so much more difficult for Rosa Parks and her husband after that. Both husband and wife lost their jobs shortly afterward in the boycott that soon followed Rosa arrest. Sometime later the couple moved to Detroit, Michigan, and they stayed there until her death in 2005 (www.biography.com).
Rosa Parks earned many awards throughout her lifetime, including, but not limited to, the Spingarn Medal, the Martin Luther King Jr. the award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. In Troy University, there is a museum dedicated to her, which is located at the site of her arrest in downtown Montgomery, Alabama (www.biography.com)
Oprah Winfrey is not only one of the most successful women in the world, but she is also one of the wealthiest women in the world. While Oprah Winfrey did meet Rosa Parks later on in life, Rosa Parks did pay an influential role to the young Oprah Winfrey. Oprah was born in the South during the 1950’s, and witness the Civil Right’s movement as a child (www.notablebiographies.com). I guess you could say that Oprah Winfrey took Rosa Parks as a bit of a mentor, which helped her maintain the courage necessary to pressure and thrive in career choices where most would have thrown in the towel on long beforehand. But Oprah didn’t and continued to succeed in her life, all thanks to one woman, Rosa Parks.
According to Kunkel and Dennis, there are eight elements that are often found in eulogies. In order, they are an establishment of credibility to eulogize, praise for the disease, self-disclosure of emotion, problem-focused coping, emotion-focused coping, positively appraisal, information of vivid past relationships, and continuation of interactive bonds with the deceased. All these factors are found in very famous eulogies, it’s important to note that a eulogy does not need all of these elements. It should also be mention that these elements do not have to be used in this particular order.
So what do all of these elements mean? Let’s start with credibility. Credibility is the quality of being trusted and believed by one’s audience. Praise of the Deceased means exactly what one would think it to mean; giving praise to a deceased person for achievements and the like. Self-Disclosure of Emotion is defined as Giving voice to one’s feelings about the stressful events, such as the death of a loved one. Problem-Focused Coping is the action of giving both explicit and/or implicit directions for action. Emotion-Focused Coping is very similar to Problem-Focused Coping, but instead of stating something that needs to be done, the speaker provides a bigger picture as a target to aim for. Positive Reappraisal is speaking positively about the deceased. This could be a happy memoried spent with the dead, or mentioning what a good life the deceased has lived. Affirmation of Vivid Past Relationship means to speak about the deceased as the speaker knew them, with all their traits and flaws. Finally, there’s continuation of interactive bonds with the deceased, which means to address the deceased person as if they were present, allowing the speaker to bond with that person.
The elements of Credibility in this eulogy is unique because Oprah Winfrey is one of those people who doesn’t need to establish your credibility. She was a talk show host for many years on the Oprah Winfrey show. She’s one of the most successful and wealthiest women in the world. she doesn’t need to establish your credibility, because he would be out of her to do so. It would be like if the President of the United States had to explain who they were and why they should have the credibility that they already have it. Still, Oprah does say one thing that helps increase her credibility right at the beginning of the speech. Oprah states that she believes it is “an honor to be here to come and say a final goodbye (line 2). By stating this, Orpah humbles herself in front of an audience by making it seem like she could never hold a candle to the hero that Rosa Parker was to her, and the black community as a whole.
The second element that Oprah Winfrey uses during her eulogy is praise for the deceased. Oprah uses his element to establish Rosa as this larger than life hero by describing how she imagined Rosa Parks to be when she first heard of the bus incident. Oprah recalls that she thought Rosa must be a hundred feet tall ??¦ [and] being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks, (lines 6 -7). As humorous as this detail is, it helps paint a picture into the mind’s the audience’s members to see Rosa as Oprah did, a hero. This element is also intertwined with the next element in this eulogy.
The third element that Oprah Winfrey uses in her eulogy for Rosa Parks is a Positive reappraisal. Oprah Winfrey’s positive reappraisal of Rosa Parks is slightly intertwined with her previous element, praise for the deceased. After all, a part of her experience with Rosa Parks is a happy memory of her from when she was a child and when her father telling her the news (line 4). The second part of her positive reappraisal comes from a memory of when Oprah Winfrey actually met Rosa Parks several years before she died. Oprah restates that her previous imaginings of how Rose Parks must look like were very wrong, as Rosa Parks was a petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness, (lines 9 – 10). the diction that Oprah uses in this line is certainly by known mistake. Oprah Winfrey’s trying to paint Rosa Parks as a little old lady that everyone knows and loves. A little old lady that is someone’s mother, or grandmother. A little old lady that did the right thing when she knew I could get her in severe trouble.
In this last half of her eulogy, Oprah Winfrey uses the fourth and final element found in eulogies, the continuation of interactive bonds with the deceased. Oprah Winfrey switches from simply talking about Rosa Parks to talking directly to Rosa Parks, by thanking Rosa for being a great woman who used your life to serve, (lines 14 – 15) to thanking her for the action that Rosa is so famous for by refus[ing] to give up your [Rosa] seat on the bus, (line 15). Oprah continues onwards, stating that if Rosa hadn’t given up her seat that fateful day, trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world, (line 16) would be vastly different. Oprah would not have been the person she was, giving that speech in front of a live audience if Rosa Parks hadn’t given up her seat. Oprah finishes with I marvel at your will. I celebrate your strength to this day. And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction. I owe you ??¦ I will not be moved, (lines 29 – 33). The reason why these last few lines are so good is that while Orpah is not only thanking a woman whom she felt mentored her, is she is praising this woman for her strength and her courage in a concise few lines and is also honor Rosa Parks all at the same time.
In conclusion, Oprah Winfrey did an incredible eulogy for the deceased Rosa Parks. she did this by using the elements of credibility, praise for the deceased, Positive reappraisal, and continuation of interactive bonds with the deceased. I thought the speech used one of the more interesting uses of credibility for a speech because Oprah Winfrey did not need to establish your credibility in front of an audience, given that the audience knew who she was. I also thought it was interesting that the last half of her speech contained only the element of continuation with the interactive bonds with the deceased. I thought that was really smart of her to do that to thank Rosa for all that she had done for others simply because she refused to give up her seat on a bus.
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