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On March 18th, 2008, Barack Obama delivered a political speech named as “A More Perfect Union” in the national constitution centre of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This speech left an significant impact on the natives and the history of America. This speech was delivered by Obama before he became the president of America. Obama delivered this speech in response to the controversial speech given by his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright criticized the US government and said that US government was a racist. He made some statement that distorted the greatness and goodness of America. Obama’s speech mainly focused on racism and unity. Obama addressed both the white American’s and the African American’s in his speech. So, that they can understand each other and get united to make America a better country where people are not judged on the bases of their gender, race and caste. In America, African American were not allowed to enjoy their freedom which was unjust because under the law of constitution every citizen has the equal right to enjoy their freedom, liberty and justice. The reason behind this unjust behavior was the racism and slavery. He begins his speech by saying “we the people, in order to form a more perfect union”(Obama 613) and try to unity all the citizens of America. Further, talks about the law that was passed two hundred and twenty-one years ago which provided freedom to farmers, scholars, statesmen and patriots of African American. But this law never came into act because of slavery. Obama’s whole speech was structured in a way that it addressed all the citizens
of America directly or indirectly. He tried to relate the problems of African and white American’s with each other. Obama talks about reverend wright that what ever he said is wrong because he showed just the negative side of America but ignored the positive points. But he tried to defend him by saying that he spoke bad about America because of his past experiences. So, Obama structured America’s racial history, his upbringing and his own prospective in such a way that his speech made a strong appeal to his audience that racism cannot be ignored any more and they must come together to solve this problem. Rhetorical strategy is defined as “modes or techniques that help the writer to organize evidence, connect facts into sequence and provide clusters of information necessary for conveying a purpose or an argument”. Obama effectively used rhetorical strategies to convey his message of unity and no more racism in his speech. He used rhetorical devices like allusion, enumeration, analogy and repetition to make his speech more appealing and gather attention of his audience. Therefore, I think that with the help of rhetorical strategies Obama structured his speech in a way that it helped him to gather support from his audience and I will prove this further in my body paragraphs.
By using the rhetorical strategy of unity and allusion Obama tried to gather attention of his audience. To make it clearer let us consider the statement given by Obama “we the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”( 316) By saying this he makes it clear that his audience was both the white and African American’s. After hearing this statement people consciously or unconsciously related themselves with his speech. Further, Obama makes an appeal to people and ask them to come together and fight against racism and slavery. So, that every person living in America can enjoy their right of liberty and justice regardless of their colour, caste and creed. Obama states his own story that he is the son of black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. He had been brought up by white grandfather and grandmother. Obama has gone to some
of the best school in America. He got married to a black American who has slavery in her blood and same is inherited to their daughters. He has brother, sister, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins of every race. Obama tried to convince his audience by telling his story that despite of all the racial difference and castes differences they are still one. They belong to the same country and said that “out of many, we are truly one.” (614). Obama feels that racism is not only present between the people of two different colour, but he has also faced racism from the people of his own community. Obama talks About his first book “Dreams From My father” (616) that why he was disappointed with the reaction he received from people? Instead of rising from the seats, clapping and crying. He expected black people to relate their stories with the stories of David and goliath, Moses and pharaoh, the Christians in the loin den and Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. He expected them understand each others pain and loss that racism has caused to them. People should come together not only to fight against racism but also to solve the other issues related to education, healthcare and jobs. In order to motivate his audience Obama talks about the “damage that started with the constitution and truthfully recounted our nation’s historic path that paved with the brutal string of institutionalized racial injustice: slavery, Jim crow, segregated school, legalised discrimination, erosion of black families due to lack of economic opportunity and the resultant cycle of violence and neglect.”(461 Isaksen, Judy L). Obama feels that by working together they will not only be able to come out the racial discrimination and the loss it has caused to them, but they can also move toward a brighter future and a more perfect union. They will not only get justice but can also get better health care, better schools and better jobs. even I feel that if Americans will work in unity they will surely be able to come out the wounds caused by slavery and racism. They will able to provide a better life to their children and may make them capable of fighting against injustice in their life. This can also motive others to come out of the cage of slavery and enjoy their life.
As I mention earlier Obama delivered this speech in response to the controversial statements given by Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Obama used a rhetorical strategy to defend wright. Wright gave a statement “God Bless America-God Damn America” (461 Isaksen, Judy L) and said that American government was a racist. Wright speech became viral and was picked up by every major news outlet. according to Obama the speech given by Wright has promoted racial injustice and has widen the gap between white and African American’s. wright has perverted the image of America by telling the negative points and ignoring the positive side. By using rhetorical questions, he tried to answer the question of the voters and media. For example, “Did I know him to be occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely.” (615) Obama as the native of America said that he did not like the way by which wright has presented America in front of other people. According to Obama this was the time to get united, but the comments given by wright were divisive. This was the time they should look that the problems that confront all the natives of America like healthcare, education, wars, potentially devasting climate changes and falling economy. He completely agreed and relates with the reaction that the white American’s have give after listening wright’s speech. but after this he ironically deafened wright by saying “that isn’t the all that I know of the man.” (616) When Obama met wright for the first time he introduced him to Christian faith, told him about the importance of loving and caring each other. wright has severed the country as a US marine and studied at some of the finest universities. He has led a church that provides shelter to homeless people, provided day care services, scholarships and medical service to the people
suffering from HIV/AIDS. Wright have not been disrespectful to any of the ethnic group or white American’s. Obama appeal to the people they should try to look on the both sides of wright. He made those comments out anger and aggression because he has been brought up in the time when slavery and Jim crow restricted the African American’s from enjoying their freedom and liberty. African American could study in segregated schools, were not allowed to own property, loans were not granted to black American business owners, were excluded from unions, police force and fire departments. They were also not provided with the basic services and economic opportunities. This lead to widen the wealth gap between the black and whites. This consequently increased the ratio of poverty among black American’s. wright was one of those who service under these circumstances but this lead to frustration and anger in wright for American government. I believe that sometimes situations change people. Same was the case with wright what ever he said was just because of his anger and unjust behaviour of government. According to the survey conducted in 2017 “there are still 53% of black American’s who feel that country still must work for African American’s to provide them their rights. According to the findings of 2016, 42% of the blacks has faced discrimination at their work place.” (Tammy Roberts 613-624)
At last, I would conclude by saying that Obama structured his essay in such a way that It involved all the problems of America. Every paragraph of this speech was very appealing and clear to the audience. It motivated people to get united and rather than thinking on the basis of white and black they should develop a feeling ourselves among them. They should try to understand each other and feel each others pain. With the help of this Obama did not criticized wrights thoughts but in a very ironic way justified his anger without losing votes from white American’s. Obama did not disappoint any of his audience and was successful in gathering support from his voters. This speech played a crucial role in his presidency.
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