Obama Speech Analysis

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President Obama started his speech with a catch by naming one of his heroes, the civil rights leader John Lewis. This created a satisfactory level of personalization that was strengthened when he linked the Selma Marches to his “way to the Oval Office.” Since Obama was addressing millions of Americans across the country, he tried to maintain a level of formality as president. He also achieved a good level of simplicity and directness that made his message easier to be understood by ordinary citizens from different backgrounds. In addition, he influenced a wide range of audience by using a narrative approach telling the story of America in general and Selma in particular. The speech’s significance is apparent in the good choice of place (Edmund Pettus Bridge) and time (50th anniversary). Obama made a good use of words and information (ex: anticipation, fear, billy clubs, tear gas, freedom, equal treatment, hope), and quoted a joke “growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing.” Obama challenged the audience with questions: “what could be more American than what happened in this place?” and used a metaphor “all you need for a night behind bars” to implicate that arrest and detention were possible. Obama made a good use of several quotes to persuade the audience such as: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” He also gave many examples to describe things, places, and events such as knapsack, bedrolls, backpack, Lexington, Independence Hall. Before presenting his speech, Obama created a harmony with the audience by applauding in response to their greetings and conveying his love for them: “Well, you know I love you back.” Obama’s body language helped him communicate with the audience. He maintained a good eye contact with them that was obvious when he addressed a host of political figures, such as President Bush, and
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