59 Colorful Language: Activities and Resources

Lynn Meade


There are so many helpful videos and activities that I want to share with you so I decided to create this overflow section.  Whether you are a student wanting to know more, a business person looking for insights, or a teacher looking for classroom ideas, these extra activities and resources are here for you.



Lyon, A. (2020). Rhetorical devices for persuasion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFRciL2P4s4




America stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.

Metaphor in Graduation Speech

Watch the opening a closing of this graudation speech by David Foster Wallace. He begins and ends with the concept, “This is water” to make the point that there are many things happening around us and we don’t even notice.

.Wallace, D.F. (2013). This is Water. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC7xzavzEKY


  • And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation.
  • I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my precious daughters.
  • And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never be the first option.
  • The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to.

Parallel Construction: Repeated More to Do:

And fellow Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do.
More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour.
More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on.
More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.
If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother.
If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.


Don’t get me wrong. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody’s son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted — or at least, most of the time.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he’ll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6’2″ or 6’3″, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.


Oprah Winfrey Eulogy for Rosa Parks

Reverend Braxton, family, friends, admirers, and this amazing choir:

I — I feel it an honor to be here to come and say a final goodbye. I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this colored woman who had refused to give up her seat. And in my child’s mind, I thought, “She must be really big.” I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks. And then I grew up and had the esteemed honor of meeting her. And wasn’t that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then. I said, “Thank you,” for myself and for every colored girl, every colored boy, who didn’t have heroes who were celebrated. I thanked her then.

And after our first meeting I realized that God uses good people to do great things. And I’m here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not — we shall not be moved.

So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man who[se] seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving.

And in that moment when you resolved to stay in that seat, you reclaimed your humanity and you gave us all back a piece of our own. I thank you for that. I thank you for acting without concern. I often thought about what that took, knowing the climate of the times and what could have happened to you, what it took to stay seated. You acted without concern for yourself and made life better for us all. We shall not be moved. I marvel at your will. I celebrate your strength to this day. And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction. I owe you to succeed. I will not be moved.


Examples of Colorful Langauge

I found so many fabulous examples of colorful language but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with examples. For those who are looking for more examples, here are a few of my favorites.

Parallel Construction

If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.
If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother.
If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, 2004.

Obama, B. (2004). Speech at the Democratic National Convention. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/bobama.html


We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air,
we shall defend our Island, 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 surrender
We Shall Fight on the Beaches, Winston Churchill, 1940

Churchhill, W. (1940). We will fight on the beaches. https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1940-the-finest-hour/we-shall-fight-on-the-beaches/


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I Have a Dream, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

King, M.L. (1963). I have a dream. https://www.history.com/topics/civil-rights-movement/i-have-a-dream-speech

Government of the people,
by the people,
for the people
shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Lincoln, A. (1863). Gettysburg Address. American Rhetoric. https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gettysburgaddress.htm

Antithesis Examples

We can stop sending our children to schools with corridors of shame and start putting them on a pathway to success. Barack Obama

Obama, B. (2008). Barack Obama’s New Hampshire Primary Speech-Yes We Can. https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/barackobama/barackobamanewhampshireconcessionspeech.htm

We can stop talking about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their greatness.  Barack Obama
Obama, B. (2008). Barack Obama’s New Hampshire Primary Speech-Yes We Can. https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/barackobama/barackobamanewhampshireconcessionspeech.htm

We must have a sense of responsibility for the future.
We are not destined to be adversaries.
But it is not guaranteed that we will be allies.
Address to the Russian Duma by Bill Clinton

Clinton, B. (2000). https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/wjclintonrussianduma.htm

A government big enough to give you everything you want,
is strong enough to take everything you have.
Ford, G. (1974). Address to a Joint Session of Congress

Isn’t it funny how a boat could be safe? How a boat could be a cement foundation in liquid insanity. Summer Jackson, Tribute to the boat she grew up on. University of Arkansas


Geary, J. (2009). Metaphorically speaking. Ted Global 2009. https://www.ted.com/talks/james_geary_metaphorically_speaking?language=en


And when you do I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.


And then figure out what is the next right move.

And the key to life is to develop an internal moral, emotional GPS that can tell you which way to go….But I know this, if you’re willing to listen to, be guided by, that still small voice that is the GPS within yourself, to find out what makes you come alive, you will be more than okay. You will be happy, you will be successful, and you will make a difference in the world.

Harvard University. (2013, May 30). Oprah Winfrey Harvard Commencement Speech : Harvard Commencement 2013 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMWFieBGR7c 

“Today, we begin a new chapter in the history of Louisiana. I’ve said throughout the campaign that there are two entities that have the most to fear from us winning this election. One is corruption and the other is incompetenceIf you happen to see either of them, let them know the party is over.”

— Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor-Elect victory Speech



Changing the expected word order.

1999 and the illusion continues. In the name of freedom, many have used art as a means to destroy the human mind. As an excuse to continue we hear, “Art reflects society.” In the name of recreation these people, in fact, are re-creating themselves in their own images; society then reflects art.– Prince

Spielberg fielded the query: “How do you still follow your dreams when it feels like the world isn’t supportive of them?” “Dreams are a great test because a dream is going to test your resolve,” the director said. “And you’re going to know a dream from a pipe dream. You’re going to know a dream from just sort of a casual brush with something that got you excited and then it evaporates. A real dream is something that not only hangs onto you but you will hang onto it. It will power you through every obstacle that people and the environment will throw against you — because if we’re in service of our dreams versus our dreams being in service to us, it becomes something greater.” Some Good News Graduation Advice Steven Speilberg

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address

 “ He liberated himself from his fear, which led us, to liberate ourselves.” AUTOHR??

It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this: a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age. Eulogy to Diana Princess of Wales by Earl of Spencer.

By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem.  President George Bush speaks at West Point Graduation.

Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done. President George Bush Address to Joint Session of Congress following 911 Attacks


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