It’s rare to hear a speech that moves you like this one does. If you have 23 minutes this is a quality way to spend it. What makes this speech so wonderful for me is not the clear and thoughtful arguments the Mayor of New Orleans makes. There are many speeches where the speaker takes you on a journey of her/his own, where the orator makes the case for what s/he wants you to believe. What is unique about this speech is that the Mayor not only makes his positive points for his agenda but also carefully and systematically goes through the arguments on the other side of this debate and one by one knocks them down. You cannot hear this speech and say, “he didn’t address…” or “he never talked about…” The mayor addresses all the points on this issue, on both sides.
Those who hear this speech walk away emboldened by the inspiring words of the speaker and by the way he gives them arguments to use when confronted by the opposing view. Further, the fact the mayor confesses his own silence on this matter, for many years, gives the speech additional power. The mayor is not pointing his finger at others, he is speaking the truth to his city, a city that includes Landrieu and his own family.
There are many references to God in this speech. And those references include diversity, truth, humility, sin, justice, moral indifference and the prophetic words. They too make this speech memorable. In a political landscape of cheap shots and ten second clips this speech stands out for this lasting effect, this speech will endure and be played for future generations. I can think of all kinds of other issues where this same logic and moral reasoning applies. As I ask people involved in these debates over the years, “In 25 years when you are talking to your younger relations which side of this issue do you want them to know you were on?”