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Obama's "A More Perfect Union" Speech

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Amanda Gon

on 30 January 2015

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Transcript of Obama's "A More Perfect Union" Speech

Obama's "A More Perfect Union" Speech
March 18, 2008

If we as a country do not come together we will never be able to "solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find jobs for every American."
Throughout the speech, Obama mentions the need for health care reform, better schools, and jobs. These are the points, we as a nation, should focus on rather than race.
Claim #3
Allusion - Biblical references, Constitution ("a more perfect union")
"This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America."
To refocus the presidential campaign, in which race was not an issue
To reassure Americans that Rev. Wright's views do now reflect his own
To remind people that our greater focus, as Americans, was to unite together to create a more perfect union, not divided under race or any other differences
Our nation must unite as one, disregarding our differences, to create a more perfect union by overcoming challenges and striving to be a better people.
Reiterated many times the ideas of unity and solving challenges relating to health care, education, and the economy
In order to work together we must understand our past.
"Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point."
Towards the end of Obama's speech, he claims the country has two choices:
Choice #1: To continue on the path they are currently on, which is separating the nation's problems by race and "accept[ing] a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism...tackl[ing] race only as a spectacle."
Choice #2: The choice to deal with the larger picture. He introduces this by repeating the phrase "This time we want to talk about…"
Claim #2
Claim #1
Evidence #1
Obama deems Wright's Comments "wrong" & "divisive when we need unity"
He stresses the need for nation to work together to solve problems including "two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all."
Evidence #2
"Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them…[this] helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students."
"A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened."
Evidence #3
OJ Simpson Trial
I.e. Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - Bush
Rev. Wright's sermons
"Crumbling schools" - steals the future of children of all races
Business corporations - shipping work overseas
Choice #1 /
Choice #2 /
Anaphora/Repetition - "This time we want to talk about..."
Similar to MLK's "I Have a Dream"
Strong-willed diction and carefully worded syntax
"We can do that."
Long, tedious sentences
Appeals to ethos, pathos, & logos
Irony - "the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning"
Anecdotes, past experiences, background
- Zimmerman Trial
Seen only as a "spectacle"
Instead of focusing on the more important issue, the "Stand Your Ground" Law, people's main focus was that Zimmerman, a WHITE man, shot Martin, a BLACK teenager.
When the verdict was announced, America was seen as a racist country again proving that we focus on race, rather than the law and how we could prevent this situation from happening again

- MLK and Obama trying to fight the viscous cycle
Speech was written as a response to videos that were leaked of Reverend Wright sermons
- Media exploded over whether Obama aligned or dissociated himself with Wright
- Cast shadow over what was important for nation as whole
Economy was down
- Promoting Healthcare for all, in turn boost economy to benefit entire nation
By Clayton Bishop, Amanda Gon, & Miranda Koster
"race only as a spectacle"
"This time we..."
Full transcript