“Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold on.”

A.) Is the thesis explicitly stated? What is it?

In the TED talk Bryan Stevenson directly states the thesis, once through a story, and a second time repeating it for emphasis. “Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.” Stevenson chooses for this main idea to be manifested toward the end of the talk for more dramatic effect. He gives supporting evidence throughout the speech, talking about identity and how we all depend on each other in order to fight for a greater good.

B.) How does he construct his argument?

Stevenson uses the main three devices: ethos, pathos, and logos in order to construct his argument. He is a successful lawyer that has a history of social justice and his influence is well noticed throughout the law community, this gives him a credibility that demands our attention. He also references meeting with Rosa Parks who is a very notable public figure who had a great historical impact in reference to his work. Emotionally Stevenson uses anecdotes to draw us in and feel connected to the cause, referencing his childhood and telling of times that had great influence on him. Stevenson uses an interesting method to deliver to us his message of working hard and keeping your eyes on the prize. The story starts when he was young and builds chronologically with his life, paralleling a speech with growing up and realizing your identity and values. Logically the argument and tactic he uses to tell it further push his agenda upon the audience and make us believe it.

C.) Does he speak to Kairos and Exigence?

Stevenson does speak to both throughout his TED talk, in reference to Kairos he mentions that the time to act is always now, and that doing right has no time limit or hindrances. To the audience in the Q&A section of the talk he is asked how people could act now and he mentions in appeal to exigence that they could do it right now and help California in a referendum vote.

D.) Does he succeed at his purpose?

Stevenson does very well to convince the audience of his message. They respond very positively in an uproar of applause and Stevenson is even asked how they could help in other way than just give money which was one of his points. His well constructed argument and direct appeal to emotion and his rock solid credibility only further demonstrate how this argument is masterfully pieced together and successfully proves his point and inspires others.

Works Cited:

Stevenson, Bryan. “We Need to Talk About Injustice.” TED
Conference Session: The Courtroom, March 1, 2012, Long
Beach, California. ted.com. https://www.ted.com/talks/bryan_stevenson_we_need_to_talk_about_an_injustice/transcript.