Winston Churchill vs. Martin Luther King

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Today I’ve got a cracker for you! Two of the best orators since the Age of Recording, two heavyweights face-to-face: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King. What do you know about these men? What was their struggle?

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Let´s start with Mr. Churchill-

churchill speech

At the time of this speech Germany had overrun France, Belgium, Holland and effectively controlled Western and Central Europe, together with his allies. Britain was ‘alone’ (with its Empire and Empire troops), facing a real threat of invasion. The speech you are about hear takes place in this context. Listen and fill in the gaps-

Winston Churchill- We Shall Fight on the Beaches.

We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and 1) …………………………….., we shall fight with growing confidence
and growing 2) …………………………… in the air, we shall defend our 3) …………………………………., whatever the cost may be.

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills; we shall never 4) ………………………………, and even if- which I do not for a moment believe-
this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and 5) ……………………………., then our Empire beyond the seas, armed
and guarded by the British Fleet, would 6)…………………………………… the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New
World, with all its 7)………………………………. and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

Martin Luther King

Now, another great orator and leader, Martin Luther King Jr, and another conflict, no less dramatic or important. The rights of the black population to gain full citizenship in the United States. This extract is a bit longer:

Martin Luther King- We Shall Overcome.

We Shall Overcome! Deep in my heart I do 8)………………………………. we shall overcome.
Now I join hands often with students and others behind jail bars singing it: “We shall overcome.”
Sometimes we’ve had 9)…………………………………… in our eyes when we joined together to sing it, but we still decided
to sing it! “We shall overcome.” Lord before this victory is won some will have to get 10)………………………………… in jail
some more but we shall overcome.

11) ………………………………………………….. about us, before the victory is won some of us will lose jobs, but we shall overcome. Before the victory is won, even some will have to face physical death. But if physical death is the
12)…………………………. that some must pay to free their children from a permanent psychological death.. then nothing
shall be more redemptive- We shall overcome. Before the victory is won some will be 13)……………………………. and
called bad names and dismissed as rebel-rousers and agitators, but we shall overcome- and I’ll tell you why:

We shall overcome because the arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
We shall overcome because Carlyle is right: “No 14)……………………………… can live forever“.
We shall overcome because William Collin Bryant is right: “Truth crushed to earth will 15) ……………………… again“.
We shall overcome because James Russel Lowell is right: “Truth forever on the scaffold. Wrong forever on the
throne, yet that scaffold sways the future. Behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadows,
16)……………………………… watch above his own “.
We shall overcome because the 17)………………………………. is right… “You shall reap what you sow.”

We shall overcome… Deep in my heart I do believe! We shall overcome.
And this with this 18)……………………………… we will go out and adjourn the counsels of despair and bring new light into
the dark chambers of pessimism. And we will be able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of
19)………………………………….. And this will be a great America! We will be the participants in making it so.
And so as I leave you this evening I say: “20)………………………………………………………….. children! Don’t you get weary!”

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Note: The use of ‘shall’ in both speeches is rather traditional/formal/poetic. In everyday conversational English, ‘shall’ is used only for questions with ‘I’ or ‘we’ as subject, as a suggestion-

‘Shall we eat out tonight?’
‘OK- what restaurant shall we go to?’

In this form, however, ‘shall’ is a more emphatic- because I say so! – form of ‘will’.

QUESTIONS:

1.Churchill mentions a possibility that Britain could be defeated and invaded. What hope would still remain in that situation?

2.What fate has befallen some, and awaits other supporters of King’s cause?

3. According to King, why is victory inevitable? Try to use one or two words (not in the speech) to summarise his argument.

The Answers: Name, email, and the answers in the post. You will also receive a free e-book and a chance to have a free Skype class with me. Click here for more information 
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Which speech do you prefer? Who is the greater speaker? What other speakers could play in the same league? Leave your comments in the comments box below:

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