Spotlight on Oratory

Spotlight on Oratory is a blog with short commentaries on speeches featured on the site. Most entries reflect on the historical significance of key speeches for contemporary issues and controversies, or provide tips for educators teaching about particular speeches on the VOD site. All users of Voices of Democracy are encouraged to submit blog entries for possible publication on the site.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis and Dorothy Day

On September 24, 2015, Pope Francis I addressed a joint session of the United States Congress.  He was the first pope to ever do so, and his remarks came as part of a six-day visit to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia.  The text and video of Pope Francis’ remarks can be found here.  […]


“A Whole Europe, A Free Europe”

On May 31, 1989 President George H.W. Bush delivered a major address on U.S. foreign policy, “A Whole Europe, A Free Europe.” In that speech, he described his vision of a free and unified Europe, one that would result in lasting peace in the region. More than twenty years later, we still have not realized […]


The Importance of Delivery

While content is essential to an effective speech, delivery is what can take a speech from “good” to “great.” The smallest variations in timing, intonation, or gestures can greatly influence the meaning and impact of a speech, so it is important that we study and practice the art of delivery Voices of Democracy contains video […]


Harvey Milk’s “You’ve Got to Have Hope” and the Rhetoric of Gay Rights

The Sochi Winter Olympics have been surrounded by excitement and anticipation, but not all the press has been positive.  Russia’s controversial anti-gay laws have sparked debate, protest, and even violence within both Russia and the international community, even spurring some world leaders to boycott the games in Sochi. This is not the first time gay […]


Teaching Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” Speech

Encouraging thoughtful discussion in the classroom can be challenging, but Voices of Democracy makes the task a little easier by providing instructors with discussion starters and additional classroom activities to use when teaching notable speeches form American history. For example, in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace,” delivered before […]


Anniversary of LBJ Oratory: “Let Us Continue”

Fifty years ago this month, Lyndon B. Johnson delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American history. Just days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he delivered a speech featured on Voices of Democracy: “Let Us Continue.” At times of crisis presidents often try to restore the people’s confidence and rally them […]


Campaign Speeches on VOD

With the campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney concluded, the campaign speechmaking ends as well. Campaign speechmaking as a separate or unique type of rhetoric is analyzed by some VOD contributors. Check out these units on specific campaign oratory: William Jennings Bryan on “Imperialism” in 1900 George H.W. Bush speaking at Penn State University […]


Abraham Lincoln Sesquicentennial

Just having marked the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address on March 4th and having recently celebrated the bicentennial of his birth, much consideration has been given to the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. For those interested in learning more or in integrating some Lincoln materials into your rhetoric and public address courses, check out […]


JFK 50th Anniversary

Today marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. It also marks the anniversary of one of the most remarkable speeches in American history. For those celebrating this anniversary or teaching this speech, VOD‘s teaching unit on JFK’s Inaugural Address is worth a visit. There you will find the speech itself, teaching and learning […]

Coming Soon to VOD

New units analyzing important public oratory will soon come to Voices of Democracy, including: Eugene Debs, “Canton, Ohio Speech” (1918)—by James Darsey Lyndon B. Johnson, “Renunciation Speech” (1968)—by David Zarefsky Abraham Lincoln, “House Divided Speech” (1858)—by David Zarefsky Harvey Milk, “The Hope Speech” (1978)—by Charles E. Morris III & Jason Edward Black