This printable supports Common Core ELA Standards ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2, ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 and ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6

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Analyzing a Eulogy (Grade 10)

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Analyzing a Eulogy

Remarks by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, on Maya Angelou

Thank you so much. (Applause.) My heart is so full. My heart is so full. Bebe -- Oprah, why did you do that? Just why did you put me after this? (Laughter.)

To the family, Guy, to all of you; to the friends; President Clinton; Oprah; my mother, Cicely Tyson; Ambassador Young -- let me just share something with you. My mother, Marian Robinson, never cares about anything I do. (Laughter.) But when Dr. Maya Angelou passed, she said, you're going, aren't you? I said, well, Mom, I'm not really sure, I have to check with my schedule. She said, you are going, right? (Laughter.) I said, well, I'm going to get back to you but I have to check with the people, figure it out. I came back up to her room when I found out that I was scheduled to go, and she said, that’s good, now I’m happy. (Laughter.)

It is such a profound honor, truly, a profound honor, to be here today on behalf of myself and my husband as we celebrate one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known, our dear friend, Dr. Maya Angelou.

In the Book of Psalms it reads: "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the Earth." What a perfect description of Maya Angelou, and the gift she gave to her family and to all who loved her.

She taught us that we are each wonderfully made, intricately woven, and put on this Earth for a purpose far greater than we could ever imagine. And when I think about Maya Angelou, I think about the affirming power of her words.

The first time I read "Phenomenal Woman", I was struck by how she celebrated black women's beauty like no one had ever dared to before. (Applause.) Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace. Her words were clever and sassy; they were powerful and sexual and boastful. And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of black women, but she also graced us with an anthem for all women –- a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.

And, oh, how desperately black girls needed that message. As a young woman, I needed that message. As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie. (Laughter.) That was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to. But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.

Her message was very simple. She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead, she said, "Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory." She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.

Dr. Angelou's words sustained me on every step of my journey. Through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms and colorless skyscrapers, through blissful moments mothering two splendid baby girls, through long years on the campaign trail where at times my very womanhood was dissected and questioned. For me, that was the power of Maya Angelou's words. Words so powerful that they carried a little black girl from the south side of Chicago all the way to the White House.
Why does Michelle Obama include a quote from the Bible at the beginning of the speech?
  1. To add a religious element to the speech
  2. To help describe Angelou
  3. To provide a metaphor for her relationship with Angelou
  4. To transition into a discussion
When first describing Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama
  1. describes how Angelou described others.
  2. offers a brief history of her life.
  3. shares how she personally knew Angelou.
  4. uses adjectives to praise Angelou.
Why does Michelle Obama reference the poem "Phenomenal Woman"?

How does Michelle Obama end her speech?
  1. By continuing to praise Angelou
  2. By summarizing her own connection with Angelou
  3. By sharing Angelou's impact on her life
  4. By encouraging others to find inspiration from Angelou
What was the focus of the speech?
  1. The greatness of the words Maya Angelou wrote
  2. How Maya Angelou empowered and inspired others
  3. Maya Angelou's love for others
  4. The love Maya Angelou had for God
Based on the speech, how did Michelle Obama feel about Maya Angelou?

This speech is a eulogy which is a celebration of someone's life.
How does this speech celebrate Maya Angelou's life?

What technique does Michelle Obama use at the beginning of the speech?
  1. Sharing a memory
  2. Evoking sadness
  3. Adding some humor
  4. Introducing herself
Later in the speech, Michelle Obama says...

"And today, as First Lady, whenever the term "authentic" is used to describe me, I take it as a tremendous compliment, because I know that I am following in the footsteps of great women like Maya Angelou. But really, I'm just a beginner -- I am baby-authentic. (Laughter.) Maya Angelou, now she was the original, she was the master."

The word authentic most likely means
  1. true.
  2. honest.
  3. appropriate.
  4. genuine.
Also in her speech, Michelle Obama says...
"That was Maya Angelou's reach. She touched me. She touched all of you. She touched people all across the globe, including a young white woman from Kansas who named her daughter after Maya, and raised her son to be the first black President of the United States. (Applause.)"

Who is she alluding to in this quote?
  1. Barack Obama
  2. Herself
  3. Maya Angelou
  4. A random person

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