Discussion of “A More Perfect Union” Speech



Senator Barack Obama passed a great message in his ‘A More Perfect Union’ speech on March 18th of 2008, which went deep into the hearts of Americans. The issue of race has been a problem in the United States had been a problem for many years, making it significant for him to address it. Furthermore, the United States had not had any African American president since independence. This meant that Obama addressing the problem in his speech would mean something to the people of the United States. He talks about having a more perfect union between people of all races in the speech. This is after his former pastor makes disturbing about white oppression of African Americans. Obama denounces the words of Jeremiah Wright with an argument that the pastor is destroying the strong foundation that the country already has for bringing equality. This relieves the American citizens of racial tension and inequality, giving them hope for a better America.


The use of rhetoric devices in Obama’s speech is very effective in the persuasion of Americans to hope for more equality. Race is a very sensitive issue in the United States, owing to African Americans’ struggle for racial equality. This appeals to the audience’s emotions, as they understand where the country has come from, referring to racial equality. The Americans require a better United States with more equality and opportunities without discrimination. Jeremiah gave the government a false representation, claiming continued oppression against black people. Obama successfully appeases the people with his speech, claiming to have a good country. Simultaneously, he positively uses pathos to respond to the criticism of his former pastor. This is with a good address on the issue, showing where the country stands and what it aims at achieving over the years. The audience of his speech has mixed races from all over the country. He talks about all their problems while remaining in defence of the country and all citizens. Being a black man gave him even more angles for tackling the issue of Jeremiah Wright.


Obama uses deep historical language, reminding the people of slavery and continued fight through equality movements to bring America together. He uses the country’s progress over the years to convince the citizens that they have already made a huge step. This also dismisses Jeremiah Wright, blaming the American government for racism and killing innocent people of color. Obama claimed that these words were insightful to white and black people, focusing on making a more perfect union among all citizens. The effective use of old information and cases of racism was also practical to draw the emotions of all Americans, who were the influential audience of the historic speech. This was an effective use of history to show a symbolic change in inequality issues of the United States (Obama 21). The black Americans had to fight for their rights while already stipulated in the constitution. For this reason, he urges the Americans to promote the unity for the mutual benefit of all citizens.


Obama’s speech was aired by many media houses, as it remains iconic in American history to date. With the intended audience being all American citizens, the speech addressed the nation and responded to Jeremiah Wright’s words. He had a good choice of words that would unite all Americans, especially where he talked about having a perfect union. This is about the racial claims made by his former pastor. He also talks about the union referring to the whole of America, seeing the issue of race widespread in almost all regions. The matter at hand involves the whole country as the audience, not specified people or places. Obama chose to address this issue resulting from the circulating issue of Jeremiah Wright’s sermon and for his presidential bid as president of the United States. The people who had listened to the circulating words by Obama’s former pastor needed some assurance that America was already a great step ahead, hence the importance of giving such information.

Ethos, Authority

Obama speaks with a lot of authority and confidence in his argument to persuade the people to face racism. He gives self-sufficient examples, urging the Americans not to turn a blind eye to the issues of racism. Firstly, Obama says his white grandmother raised him in Kansas. While she fights to prevent racial oppression, she also admits to walking past black people in the streets. This shows a typical America and the kind of lives of racial diversities. However, the senator grew up with both black and white relatives, meaning he is in the middle. Even if people choose to leave the issue unattended, he has no choice. He uses this ethos to show the citizens that they do not choose but to form a strong united country without racial segregation. Obama uses the facts on the old America, which entailed slavery of the black people. This is intended to show them that the country has already come from far to reach where they are.

Obama successfully uses ethos in his speech to show devotion to his country in several ways. He talks about being a black man with a black wife, whose blood is passed on to their children. He also insists on possessing the bloodline of the enslaved Americans, who are the current African Americans in the country. For this reason, it is impossible to detach from the issue of racial inequality in the country. Having his bid for the presidency, Obama insists that America is the only country that a black man can be chosen for the presidency. He seems to have a strong belief in the country and the possibility of achieving the required change. It shows credibility in the ethos, portraying confidence in leading the people of the United States. Obama aimed at transferring the same to his audience, such that they all possess the optimism in creating complete fairness regardless of race. Obama uses the scripture to tell all Americans that we should do unto others what we would like for ourselves. This is in the confidence of creating a united country, which should see success and prosperity to young generations of all races.

Obama uses a powerful, authoritative tone in almost all parts of his speech to ensure all his words are taken into consideration by the audience. Efficient delivery ensures that the listeners absorb all important information in a speech. In the mention of constitutional contents, Obama talks about the issue of equality being at the core. Simultaneously, the constitution had the issue of justice to all Americans, without consideration of other factors (Obama 17). Obama states that these laws ought and should be achieved over time. He speaks this with confidence, which reassures the audience that all these are achievable through cooperation. His efficiency in presentation increases his chances of the presidency and cements a ground for unity in the racially divided country. The issue of pastor Wright is also tackled with much care without upsetting others. He criticizes the idea without ridiculing his former preacher in his speech. It shows a clear sense of leadership in Obama by tackling difficult issues.

Ethos Experience

Obama’s experience in politics and American history is very effective in persuading all citizens. Firstly, he is brought up by a white grandmother and grandfather, who he heard talks about the fear instilled by black people on the streets. Simultaneously, he is also like any other black person in the country, meaning it does not get easier for anyone. This personal experience can move the whole of America, making them understand what racism is like. The knowledge in American history is also very significant in Obama’s speech on the issue of racism. Initially, African Americans were enslaved people in the United States. Even after independence, slavery still continued for a while, with the whites bringing oppression to the black people (Obama). This information dismisses the words of Obama’s old pastor. Wright’s words depict the old America where the African Americans were slaves on farms. However, there has been a series of changes over the years. Obama believes the country is not yet where it should be, but the improvement is huge.

Barrack Obama talks about the present ethos before writing the United States constitution. It provided for equal citizenship under the law, which meant a fair deal for all cultures in America. This shows his wide knowledge of the constitution, which allows him to speak to the citizens without fear of controversy. The end of slavery on black Americans is seen as a result of struggle and constant fights by brave and relentless citizens who seek justice (Obama). The journey has been long with fruitful harvests. As racism prevails in America, Obama believes that the country will see full implementation of this issue in the coming years. He uses this information to reassure the people that following these footsteps will continue with the crucial work of older generations. This experience and information on American history are very persuasive for the audience of his speech. He successfully wins the nation out of Jeremiah Wright’s comments, as he claims that the USA is not static but rather a moving country in all sectors.

Obama gives the story of a young white woman named Ashley, who aided in his campaigns for the presidency. Her experience shows a good representation of what America needs to initiate change. Obama explains her active organization of African Americans in the period. This story results from Ashley’s personal experience, which persuades other Americans. Ashley gives the story of her mother, who was ill while she was 9, where she had to lie about her favorite food to her, only to ensure they could afford it. Ashley’s reason for being there was to help any other children like her pursue their dreams if they would like to extend a helping hand to their parents. On the same table, an old black man claims that his aim is helping Ashley. This shows a good representation of what the whole of America requires from each other. If all people set their minds towards this kind of development, it could be easier to create a ‘more perfect union.

Pathos, Needs & Values

Barrack Obama widely uses pathos in his speech as a rhetorical device to persuade his audience. Feelings are a solid form of convincing, as they are most effective. He grows up with a white grandmother, being a black man. Despite this, she portrays the best form of love for her grandson. He admits that she loves him more than any other thing. For this reason, she fights for her as she hopes he becomes someone presentable and a good citizen of the United States. However, he hears the fear in her comments when she goes out. She talks about black men posing a danger to her in the streets of Kansas. It depicts even Obama as a black man in a negative way. This gives an emotional appeal to the crowd, which finds the dilemma difficult. Simultaneously, the love his grandmother has for him still stands. The pathos persuades all citizens to stand for a united country free of discrimination and other racist actions (Obama). He leaves the people with a positive attitude with the presidential bid, which shows the uprising of the black people.

Focusing on the lives of United States black people, Obama also gives a deep emotional appeal to the audience on the needs of all United States Citizens. He talks about having a black wife who carries the blood of the original enslaved people in the states. Even after the writing of the constitution, slavery continued in the south. He talks about the achievements of equality only being found through war and struggle. For this reason, he believes that the country should continue working to foster a suitable environment for all races. Obama’s life story of not being black nor white has brought him a lot of controversies in the campaigns from media houses. It shows the heavy link he has with all Americans, including the marginalized groups. However, he stands a strong ground and believes that America is the only place he could be elected president. The United States’ racial issues have prevailed for a far, much longer time. He insists that people appreciate the progress in the country over time. He uses all these stories to ensure he gives an emotional appeal to the audience in his presidential bid.

Obama has given several values that the Americans should ensure for a better tomorrow. The same values also allow them to live freely in their country without fear. The most significant value in Obama’s speech is that of unity. In his speech, he talks about creating a perfect union that serves all individuals. The primary issue of racism can be eliminated when people are united (Obama). This means that it serves a central position for the connection of all Americans. Obama quotes from the Bible, asking Americans to be their brother’s keeper, without racial considerations. It is a great value that could help the country move to other levels. Through caring for each other, United States citizens promote the importance of harmony, hence cohesion in their population. He then gives a very strong point on the coming generations. Obama says that the union he craves may never be achieved, but generations continue to be better positioned to where the country now stands.

Logos, History

According to Barrack Obama, the United States has the potential to finish what they already started. It is about the issue of eliminating racism and promoting unity in the country. He says these words with a lot of certainty about the country’s future. Having grown up in a white family, he has first-hand information on what happens in the streets and homes. Over the past years, the United States fought for equal rights and an end to discrimination. Obama degrades the words of Jeremiah Wright, firing them as false and problematic to the country (Obama). In the pastor’s initial words, he said that the government is involved in killing black people, contributing to the prevalence of racism in the United States. Obama revokes this story, correcting that the country has already seen huge steps towards achieving equality. For this reason, the continuous movement towards the main goal constitutes an eventual change, which could be more effective. Obama also thinks that the United States is the only country he could run as president and win; hence he bid. His opinion is that upcoming generations will reap fruits.

Jeremiah Wright brought the story of racism resulting from government activities in one of his comments. He claims that the country remains in a racially problematic position. However, Obama argues otherwise, claiming that the country has already taken significant steps to achieve change. Obama uses ancient American history to persuade the audience into creating a ‘more perfect union between all races. In the speech, he talks about marrying a black wife, who carries the blood of enslaved people, which is then passed to their children. After creating the United States constitution, slavery among African Americans continued. After they fought and struggled, equality was met in the country. Obama uses this history to show that the United States has already come a long way. This is in disregard of Reverend Wrights’s words that the government is responsible for the increased racial differences and oppression of the black people. Compared to the old times, it gives a deep insight into where the country is headed over the next years.

Remarkably, ‘A More Perfect Union’ is a well-developed speech, following all necessary factors for persuading the audience. Obama successfully uses rhetorical devices to attract the attention of the American citizens in his presidential bid. Pastor Wright’s words are successfully appeased using polite language in the speech. America has made a huge progress since the first induction of racial equality through a hard-fought war by the black Americans. This is tied with abolishing slavery in the United States, years after the constitution was signed. Obama believes that the coming generations will reap those benefits if the citizens opt to stay united. He uses deep historical knowledge of American slavery to deal with the current racial issues. It is meant to assure the audience a chance to see more progress to equality. The speech uses almost all rhetoric devices to bring in the main point. Obama shows the country the importance of unity and harmony among them. Ashley shows evidence of what it feels like to be unfortunate in the country

Works Cited

Obama, Senator Barack. “A more perfect union.” The Black Scholar 38.1 (2008): 17-23

Cite this paper

Select style


DemoEssays. (2022, December 22). Discussion of "A More Perfect Union" Speech. Retrieved from https://demoessays.com/discussion-of-a-more-perfect-union-speech/


DemoEssays. (2022, December 22). Discussion of "A More Perfect Union" Speech. https://demoessays.com/discussion-of-a-more-perfect-union-speech/

Work Cited

"Discussion of "A More Perfect Union" Speech." DemoEssays, 22 Dec. 2022, demoessays.com/discussion-of-a-more-perfect-union-speech/.


DemoEssays. (2022) 'Discussion of "A More Perfect Union" Speech'. 22 December.


DemoEssays. 2022. "Discussion of "A More Perfect Union" Speech." December 22, 2022. https://demoessays.com/discussion-of-a-more-perfect-union-speech/.

1. DemoEssays. "Discussion of "A More Perfect Union" Speech." December 22, 2022. https://demoessays.com/discussion-of-a-more-perfect-union-speech/.


DemoEssays. "Discussion of "A More Perfect Union" Speech." December 22, 2022. https://demoessays.com/discussion-of-a-more-perfect-union-speech/.