Panel One: Politics and Protest in African American Public Address

African American Public Address Pre-Conference 
at the 
National Communication Association Conference in Baltimore, Maryland

Day: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Place: Baltimore Convention Center 
Room: 344 (300 Level)

**The conference is free, but you must register. If you are interested in attending the conference, when you register for NCA, please sign up for the conference as well. If you are not attending NCA but would like to attend the pre-conference, sign up here.

***To see the other panels, click here

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Panel One: 8:30am-9:45am

Title: Politics and Protest in African American Public Address

Chair: Natonya Listach, University of Memphis


Natonya Listach is an Instructor and Assistant Director of Forensics at Middle Tennessee State University. While in high school and college, she competed in interpretive events and won awards in duo interpret prose, persuasion, and rhetorical criticism/communication analysis.
Natonya's research interests include African American Communication, Instructional Communication, and Computer-Mediated Communication. She is a member of the Southern States Communication Association and the Tennessee Communication Association. She is also a graduate student in the Department of Communication & Film at the University of Memphis. Her current research focuses on the rhetorical pedagogy of Hallie Quinn Brown.

David A. Frank, University of Oregon 


David Frank is a professor of rhetoric in the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. The author and co-author of six books and 50 journal articles, Professor Frank studies the use of rhetoric and argumentative reason in value conflicts. He writes and teaches courses on rhetorical history and theory, civil rights rhetoric, the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, and the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. He has received research awards alone and in collaboration with colleagues from the Mellon Foundation, Stanley Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the Korea Research Foundation. He and his colleague Robert Rowland were awarded the Kohrs-Campbell Prize in Rhetorical Criticism for their book Shared Land / Conflicting Identity: Trajectories of Israeli and Palestinian Symbol Use and he was awarded “article of the year” by the Communication and Religion Association. He served a five-year term as the academic dean of the Clark Honors College and has received six teaching awards in his career. Professor Frank is married to Marjorie Enseki, a retired kindergarten teacher. They have two sons, Michael (a student at Yale Law school) and Justin (a psychology major at the University of Oregon). He has played racquetball for fifty years and can beat most players over the age of eighty.

Paper Title: More Than a Dream: The Influence of Martin Luther King’s August 28, 1963, March on Washington Address 

In this paper, I consider the direct influence of Martin Luther King's March on Washington address on the U.S. Congress, president, and public. In so doing, I am responding to Kiewe and Houck’s call for scholars of rhetoric and public address to link, in their studies, the “rhetorical act to some sort of reaction.” Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman has identified some of the material consequences of King’s March on Washington speech, astutely noting that it “brought movement politics to a new level” and “presented an action agenda.” This agenda, Ackerman argues, is embedded in the litany of complaints in King’s speech about Jim Crow, underscoring the claim that the speech “did not merely dream about the distant future.” Risen, in a comprehensive study, concludes, “King’s magnificent “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington helped persuade white America that the time had come for federal action on civil rights.”

Ackerman and other scholars spell out at least five concrete results of federal action on civil rights that were influenced by King’s March on Washington speech: 1). The Civil Rights Act of 1964. 2). The Voting Rights Act of 1965. 3) The War on Poverty. 4). Affirmative Action. 5) The Fair Housing Act of 1968. With the enactment of these laws and programs, the long civil rights movement achieved significant coherence, better matching the words of the US Constitution with deeds, the proclamation of the rule of justice with at least its partial realization. I itemize, in some detail, these five tangible products of King’s March on Washington address. 

Damariyé L. Smith, University of Memphis


Twitter: @LLKOOOLTR3

Instagram: llkoooltr3

Damariyé L. Smith was born and raised in the Bay Area (northern California). His research interests are primarily focused on the rhetorical tradition, specifically in the context of African American studies, Higher Education and Education policy in the United States. Other research areas of interest include film criticism, leadership, organizational communication, and communication theory. He is an active member of the National Communication Association, Western States Communication Association as well as Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. His personal interests include working with disadvantaged and first-generation college students, mentoring, leadership development, cooking, spending time with my daughter, and our family, and playing as well as officiating basketball. His current research focuses on the commencement speeches of President Barack Obama.

Paper Title: Afrocentricity in Epideictic Rhetoric: An Examination of Barack Obama’s Commencement Speech at Morehouse College 

Foner and Branham (1998) once argued that public address “remains a pervasive and important practice in American political and social life (p. 1).” The objective of this essay is to explore the 44th U.S. President, Barack Obama’s commencement address to the graduating class of Morehouse College. More specifically, I examine the Afrocentric qualities of Obama’s epideictic rhetoric to demonstrate how Afrocentricity promotes not only, a collective and humanistic approach to communication, but also possess persuasive characteristics that invite reflection and change through the epideictic genre. Implications suggest that Afrocentricity, as a lens, facilitates a more robust comprehension of the potential power of the epideictic genre that has the potential to shape societal change to bring about a more just and democratic society.

Erica Cooper, East Carolina University 


Twitter: @EricaCo8637620

Instagram: efcooper1922

Erica Cooper hails from the midwest (Wisconsin) and completed her graduate studies at Indiana University. Currently, she serves as the co-director of the African and African American Studies program and teaches in the School of Communication at East Carolina University. She has published on topics such as the rhetoric of race in law, critical race theory, critical rhetorical theories, and the one-drop rule. Erica's other research interests include the rhetoric of health and race, Black Power rhetoric, and colorism in the media.

Paper Title: The Rhetoric of Equality: A Fantasy Theme Analysis of African American Oratory During Reconstruction 

In this analysis, I propose that dramatistic theory can offer an effective means for understanding African American rhetoric as a tool for social change. Specifically, I make a case for the utility of Symbolic Convergence Theory and its accompanying methodology, Fantasy Theme Analysis, in the context of analyzing African American oratory during the period of Reconstruction. I argue that FTA features the symbolic realities or rhetorical visions of African American orators directly after the Civil War. During this 12-year period, three distinct rhetorical visions exist within African American discourse. Although each vision has a distinct fantasy type, collectively they operate as a means of revealing a shared ideology among African Americans. These orators develop rhetorical visions where “equality” is defined as either natural, social, or political rights. "Equality," a mainstream American ideal, is a common thread within each vision. “Racism” and “equality” are juxtaposed as “modal society fantasy themes" (Cragan and Shield, 1981). By doing so, African American orators directly confront and challenge the injustice caused by “racism” that has and continues to exist within the larger society. Therefore, African American orators are able to associate the survival of American "democracy" with promoting a vision where “equality” is elevated and “racism” is eradicated. 

Andrew Boge, University of Iowa


Twitter: @BOGE_wan_kenobi

Instagram: bogetwin

Andrew Boge is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa studying rhetoric and public advocacy. Residing at the intersection of critical race studies, contemporary rhetorical theory and criticism, and decolonial studies, his research broadly focuses on the rhetoric of race/racisms with attention to temporality and social change. Andrew is particularly interested in parsing out the dominant temporal literacies that discursively obfuscate the spectral elements of race/racisms.

Paper Title: “But still we are haunted”: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Decolonial Chrono-politics, and “The Case for Reparations”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a key figure in the African American oratorical tradition, became coronated a foremost black public intellectual with his publication of the “The Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic magazine. The 16,000-word long-form essay documenting the systemic barriers that have precluded black people’s ability to generate and accumulate wealth in the United States sparked a national conversation around the topic of reparations not seen in over a decade. The essay’s centrality in public discourse and the inventive rhetorical tactics laden within its prose is the central concern of this essay. 

Drawing on critical time studies, Afrofuturist scholarship, and decolonial theory, I articulate the inventive temporal strategies Coates deploys to break away from the tired and hegemonic arguments that keep reparations stalled. I argue, Ta-Nehisi Coates engages in a decolonial chrono-politic that subverts modernity/coloniality’s conception of History and racial progress restraining the reparations debate. Contained within “The Case for Reparations” is a decolonial temporal performance that disintegrates linear constructions of United States History through a centering of anti-black violence as a formidable tool that precluded African Americans from the central corpus of wealth in the United States. The past-present-future diachronic articulation of reparations allows Coates to inventively triangulate and deploy discrete temporalities locked away by the colonial matrix of power. I draw implications for theorizing race outside of hegemonic constructions of time and the potential of non-linear argumentation.

Respondent: Richard Leeman, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Dr. Leeman has authored, co-authored, or edited seven books. Some include The Teleological Discourse of Barack Obama, The Will of a People: Great Speeches by African Americans (with Bernard K. Duffy), and the African-American Oratory: A BioCritical Sourcebook. His published articles have appeared in journals such as Southern Communication Journal, Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, Argumentation and Advocacy, Howard Journal of Communication and Journal of Political Science. He is a past editor of the Carolinas Communication Annual. He has been the recipient of the American Forensic Association’s Daniel M. Rohrer award for best Forensics article, Southern States Communication Association’s Top Paper in Rhetoric and Public Address award, the Carolinas’ Communication Association’s Ray Camp award for Most Outstanding Research Paper, and the Carolinas’ Communication Association’s Betty Jo Welch service award. In 2017, he received the Southern States Communication Association’s Michael M. Osborn Teacher-Scholar Award.