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Barack Obama a More Perfect Union Speech Summary

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The speaking abilities Of the 44th US President Barack Obama, his ability to Win the hearts of the audience and inspire listeners with a bright speech allowed many authors to describe him as the greatest speaker of his generation (Wilson 8). Namely, the skill of public speaking helped him achieve the top of the career ladder in the political hierarchy of the United States.

According to Ekaterina Haskins, a professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa, in his speeches, one can catch the echoes of the great speeches of the past – this creates a sense of continuity, determination, and historical significance (Haskins as cited Terrill 363-384) He certainly studied the work of his predecessors and is well versed in the oratorical heritage, from which he draws inspiration for his speeches. Obviously, he sees himself as the heir to the achievements of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King and conveys this in his speech messages to the American people, inspiring them to support him and follow him (Terrill 363-384).

On March 18, 2008, a candidate from Philadelphia Obama delivered a speech that gave hope to black Americans, This was a comment in response to a Statement by his friend and pastor from Chicago, Jeremiah Wright, who accused the US government of crimes against blacks. ‘God damn America… for killing innocent people,’ he proclaimed in a sermon from the podium, and it could destroy Obama’s candidacy. It should be noted that after the primary, Obama initially had a slight advantage. At that time, there were reports in the media that former Obama pastor Jeremy Wright was condemning US policy in his sermons. Obama’s promising presidential campaign has come under threat. Trying to discredit him, opponents suggested that he agreed with his former pastor. Obama had to publicly challenge Wright’s views and speak out on the important issue of racial and religious issues in public life. Relying on his oratorical talent, Obama delivered a memorable speech on the progress America has made since the civil rights movement in the 1960s and brought this historic moment closer when black got the opportunity to run for president. Obama made it clear that he does not agree with some of Wright’s views, but he cannot fully refuse the priest, whom he treats almost as a family member, just as he cannot refuse his white grandmother, who has repeatedly openly expressed dislike for black people. He called for separating religion from politics, as prescribed by the Constitution developed in Philadelphia more than two hundred years ago (Wilson 14-18). ‘The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism In our society,” – Obama said in his speech. ‘It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress had been made; as if this country (Obama)]

Obama talked about the time when blacks were forced to be slaves for whites – a time when they did not even belong to the second class and were treated like goods that could be sold on the market. He also talked about the time until the 1960s, when blacks were not allowed to sit on the same benches as white and were forced to take back seats on the buses.

In that speech, Obama promised to create a more perfect union. He wanted to fulfill a promise made fifty years ago by his associate Democrat Lyndon Johnson. Speaking after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of July 1964, Johnson said he hopes to close the springs of racial poison’ (Bowen).

In his speeches, not just a technique is felt, but a natural position, natural methods, and natural speech. In his speech A More Perfect Union, delivered in Philadelphia, Pa., on March 18, 2008, as part of a presidential campaign, Obama appeals primarily to ordinary voters, both African Americans, and whites, to those who are affected by social problems of the American society, caused by racial divisions, persistent latent segregation, inequality, poverty; he is speaking of himself as a simple citizen, the son of a black woman and a white man, stresses that he is married to a black American, in whose veins there is the blood of slaves and slave owners (Obama), and then he successfully proceeds to the idea of unity in diversity. Barack Obama points to the unity of the American people and calls for overcoming racial and class contradictions. It should be noted that the use of implicit markers also contributes to the expression of the idea of unity: the pronouns of the second person ‘you’ and the first person plural of ‘we,’ as well as their possessive forms. It is also interesting that Obama did not start by talking about himself – he started talking about ordinary Americans. It was a brilliant technique. Moreover, Obama positioned himself not as a candidate from the establishment, but from the people. This speech determined the fate of the entire Obama campaign. It frankly talked about how racial hatred disfigures lives and challenges the highest ideals of the nation.

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He’ll begin his speech by referring to the founding fathers, whom he also, in fact, calls ordinary people, speaking of them as a group of men gathered ‘two hundred and twenty-one years ago in a hall that still stands across the street,’ ‘with these simple words’ putting the beginning of ‘America’s improbable experiment in democracy (Obama). He further speaks about the dream of various people – from farmers to government leaders – those who crossed the ocean in search of a new, better life, implementing the Declaration of Independence which, however, was tainted by the shameful phenomenon of slavery, the Consequences of which have not been overcome. In the next part of his speech, Obama talks about the evolution of the struggle for racial equality, for aligning the declared ideals and reality, and so he goes on to talk about his election campaign, the main task of which he sees in that ‘to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a juster, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America’ (Obama). Describing in detail the acute social problems associated with the racial ‘legacy’ of the past, Obama calls for uniting to combat inequality today and expresses a firm belief in the success of this struggle (albeit not too fast), subject to joint efforts. He also emphasizes that moving in this direction is the only alternative for further improvement of the union (Obama). Then he again goes on to particularize acute problems, briefly dwelling on conceptual lines of action to correct the situation, and concluding his speech with a justification for nominating his candidacy for the presidency – heartfelt faith In the current generation of Americans, their desire to improve the country’s real democratic foundations, and their ability for changes. As a result, Obama made the most serious revolution in the picture of Americans’ electoral preferences since the time of the Kennedy brothers (and maybe even more serious): he again attracted young people to the polling stations. Moreover, he began to enjoy great popularity among undecided voters (those who do not support either Democrats or Republicans and focus more on the personal qualities of the candidate).

The key concept of analyzing Obama’s political speech m IA More Perfect Uniön can be the term ‘strategy,’ which can be described as a specific orientation of speech behavior in a given situation in order to achieve the goal of communication. In this context, let us note that one of the main components of any election campaign is the rhetoric of the candidate for the desired post. Hence, politicians, in their speech behavior, turn to persuasion strategies. Based on the classification and terminology proposed by the researchers, the strategy of persuasion can be divided into two parts: argumentative and agitational (Nzekwe 80-87, 198). Each Of them is implemented through the tactics of contrastive the tactics of pointing to perspective, the tactics of promise, and the tactics of call.

Obama mostly uses an argumentative strategy in the first part of his speech and an agitational strategy in the second. However, in the second part, he also skillfully uses argumentative strategy, and this combination ensures that the speeches have the effect that, we must assume, was made by the speeches of the founding fathers, and later of Abraham Lincoln and, in recent history, Martin Luther King. In general, Barack Obama’s presidential discourse constantly contains basic political patterns of American national-cultural identity, such as the national idea and the uniqueness of Americans as a nation.

Obama uses standard, well-known techniques, but he combines them so skillfully that he manages to achieve the incomparable influence of his discourse on the public. The list of his techniques •ean be supplemented by an inter-discourse function, WhiCh consists of frequent appeals to the experience of predecessors and their discursive practices. Thus, a strong link is established between the past and the present, and the continuity of generations is emphasized. As Ryan Holiday rightly points out, this Obama speech appeared to be a turning point. Instead of distancing himself from the voters, Obama addressed them directly. By doing so, he not only neutralized the potentially fatal conflict but also created an opportunity to strengthen his position. Using the power of a negative situation, he gave his campaign additional energy, which eventually led him to the White House (Holiday 45-48). Indeed, contrary to the advice and ‘rules’ in political PR, Obama decided to act actively and use the negative situation of racial tension in society as a reason to appeal to voters. He is not afraid to cover in his speech the most acute latent social conflicts of modern American society; he gives the impression of perfect sincerity, honesty, and frankness. Thanks to the arguments that create the effect of obviousness and notoriousness of certain facts, Barack Obama influences the consciousness of the listener, forcing him to believe in the truth of what was said, or agree with his own opinion.

Even the most educated and erudite audience will better perceive the information submitted in a simple manner, which was confirmed by the history of the political upheavals of the times of the Declaration of Independence and, subsequently, of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Obama’s message was as simple as possible, and all his other ideas just complimented and detailed it: ‘working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact, we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union (Obama).

In his speech about a more perfect union, the essence of the political philosophy of the new democratic administration of the USA was reflected. This speech brought together the experience of representatives of different races, showing a deep understanding of the long-standing disagreements between them, rooted deep in the subconscious, and putting Obama himself as the embodiment of common hopes for unification. With such rhetoric, it is not surprising that Obama turned out to be a ‘ ‘man of the decade’ who was called the ‘new Gorbachev’ (Sharma and Gielen 31-44). The world in the presidency of George W. Bush lost not so much an ideal role model as the leader – namely, the leader, whom people follow by their own will, and not by coercion. Obama appeared to become that leader. America almost all over its history was perceived as a symbol of opportunities and hope, as an example for the whole world. The world looked at America as a country of possibilities, but at the same time, it saw that racism in this country did not disappear, that black and Hispanic people were unequal to white Protestants. However, America, with the election of a black president, to some extent returned to the world the well-known ‘American dream,’ which promises everyone, regardless of origin, the opportunity to realize their desires, ambitions, and aspirations in life with a strong-willed effort. Obama showed this dream to voters in his A More Perfect Union speech.

Barack Obama is one of the best speakers of our time, véhose author’s s&le is based on the virtuoso manipulation of various linguistic means, as well as convincing people of the truth of his position, which he uses to exert the necessary influence on his target audience. All his speeches have a clearly constructed strategy in terms of the use of speech techniques. And the fact that he successfully overcame the election races of 2008 and 2012, once again becoming president of the United States, suggests that such a communicative strategy is correct.

Works Cited

  1. Bowen, Mae. ‘This Day in History: President Lyndon B. Johnson Signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.’ The White House. President Barack Obama. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2()15/07/02/day-history-president-lyndon.
  2. Nzekwe, Justin C. The Art of Oratory: Effective guide to Communication and Speech Making. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.
  3. Obama, Barack. The Essential Barack Obama: The Grammy Award- Winning Recordings by
  4. Terrill, Robert E. ‘Unity and Duality in Barack Obama’ ‘fA Moie Perfect Union.’ Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol.65, 2009, pp. 363-386.
  5. Wilson, John K. President Barack Obama: A More Perfect Union. Routledge, 2009.

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Barack Obama a More Perfect Union Speech Summary [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/barack-obama-a-more-perfect-union-speech-summary/
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