Revisiting Three Iconic American Speeches: The Words of FDR, JFK and MLK

College of the Holy Cross

Stephanie Yuhl is the W. Arthur Garrity, Sr. Professor in Human Nature, Ethics and Society and Professor of History at the College of the Holy Cross, as well as Associate Faculty at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in the Critical Conservation Program.  An expert in 20th-century U.S. cultural and social history who specializes in historical memory, social movements, gender and sexuality, Southern history, and the built environment, Professor Yuhl is also a consultant and curator of historical museum exhibits and oral history projects. A popular teacher who was awarded the inaugural Burns Career Teaching Medal for Outstanding Teaching, Yuhl is the author of the award-winning book, A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston, and the co-author of LGBTQ+ Worcester for The Record.



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Holiday Encore Presentation

(no live Q & A)

~Can Be Viewed Anytime on 1/16/2023~


The 3 Greatest American Speeches of the 20th Century
We live in a time of competing soundbites, media highlights, and “fake news” claims that urge us to examine more carefully what we believe is true about the US political landscape. Sometimes, we react to the current tumult by assuming that this discord is a new situation and that things were simpler and more direct back in the so-called “good old days.”

Three Stirring American Speeches
In this class, we will explore this impulse by revisiting three stirring 20th-century American speeches: by Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. We will examine moments that we all think we know well because they constitute the foundation of our popular sense of America — as a nation and a people. But as we dig deeper beyond the surface of simple soundbites and into the lesser-known context and controversies surrounding these iconic historical moments, we may be surprised to find that our understanding of the past and present may not be as clear as we have assumed, after all.

Learn More About Great American Speeches
Learn more about the greatest speeches in American history and other fascinating topics by checking out our online video lectures library. Access to all online video lectures comes standard with OneDayU membership, click here to learn more.




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barbara ann.fields

Truth in Totality

I would not listen to this class on Dr. King’s birthday because I thought it would be more of the same fluff that we get every year but I must say that what you said is true, there is truth in the whole of the speech rather than the sound bites. Thank you.

1 year ago

More taught in an hour than in 12 years

As a student who is more recently graduated from secondary school, I always believed that the teachings of black history month was constant reiteration with no depth. I graduated high school only last year, 2022, but In the last few month my appetite for education has grown tremendously. One of the short comings of secondary school is the complete lack of depth on any and every topic. The topic of the civil rights movement is covered every year for black history month yet they reiterate the same moral righteousness instead of providing any for of context and education on the times. In the roughly 20 minutes of this presentation that covers MLK’s speech I have learned more about the time period on the actual ground level than I did in more than a decade in school. The same is true for the other two speeches, classes in school only vaguely touch upon the truly fearful times of the great depression and the cold war. This presentation gives a much better ground level view of those parts of history and tell us what was going on in America that provoked the speeches that are so famous.

1 year ago
Lynn Norton

This presentation provided a completely new perspective for me, not to mention, much information I wasn’t aware of. Excellent!

9 months ago
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