Rhetorical Analysis Of ' A More Perfect Union '

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

“A More Perfect Union”: Obama, Race, and the Necessity to Unite

Philadelphia, March 2008. Neither that city nor year suggests a crucial event in American racial history. It’s not Birmingham in 1961, or Washington, D.C. in 1963. However, on March 18, 2008, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon-to-be President Barack Obama, a black man with an African father, took the stage and delivered a speech that would paint the racial landscape of his historic presidency. In his speech, Obama welds three distinctive rhetorical tactics to support his overarching argument that unity is compulsory in this country to produce racial equality. First, he opens with a personal and historical background to highlight the kairotic moment and exigence present, then appeals to pathos through multiple examples of racial injustice to indicate the necessity of such change, and finally uses his appeals to ethos to suggest, but not legislate, modes of change for black and white Americans. The speech was met with profound success: pundits from both the right and the left praised his bravery and oration, while, later that year, Obama defeated John McCain in a landslide victory to secure the presidency. To many, this speech was both a rhetorical and political turning point in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Obama begins his speech with his own and America’s racial history to highlight the importance of unity in anticipation of his election. He
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