In his awaited response to Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright’s uncivil outburst, Barrack Obama puts to shame the hasteful denunciations from Americans. He creates redemption for Wright’s actions which produces an emotional appeal with his citizens. Ushered forward by Obama is the back story of Reverend Wright,- something Obama’s audience had been comfortably oblivious to until now- his hardships, victories, and benevolent deeds that reveal his true nature; not the one of ill nature or ignorance that one might think otherwise. But, before President Obama can do this, he must give himself a sense of credibility through sharing a portion of his own backstory.
In the 6th paragraph of Obama’s speech, he introduces a small yet personal synopsis of his family’s story. He acknowledges the role that the United States has played in Obama’s kin, and his own, journey “And for as long as I live… my story is even possible.” (paragraph 6, lines 7-8) Although, he says “my story,” Obama is rhetorically telling his audience the United States of America is the sole place where almost anything can be accomplished, no matter how unfeasible the quest; many grown Americans are able to connect to this one statement because America, the land of the brave and free, is the reason they have their own “my story.” He confirms this notion in lines 9 and 10 of the same paragraph,“this nation is more… we are truly one.” Obama’s mixed race that he identifies in this paragraph(6) sets up as an anecdote used 15 paragraphs later.
“I can no more disown him than… stereotypes that made me cringe.” (paragraph 21, lines 1-5) President Obama makes the point of acquainting with the “black community” before introducing his white grandmother. His verbal gesture emphasizes neither is above the other and reinforces his racial credibility. The president qualifies his beloved grandma as an illustration that demonstrates how even though loved ones have the occasional slip-ups, they should not be grounds to break ties.
Obama captures his audience in a thought bubble where they decide if a loved one has more rights than other humans. “These people are part of me. And… this country that I love.” (paragraph 22) This succeeding line to his grandmother anecdote continues the flow and thoughts gathered from paragraph 6 that says Americans are independently “One” with each other if they overcome simplistic prejudices. At the time Obama makes his speech he fights two battles: a battle of the polls and one of morality, but not just Reverend’s ethics, all Americans for the past 221 years are included.
“The press has scoured… black and brown as well.” (paragraph 7, lines 7-9) The President draws a parallel that indicates ideas of racial inequality is something that will exist no matter the society. Obama seeks to change this. He looks to the young and new generations to fulfill America’s true purpose- freedom. “what gives me the most hope is the next generation” (paragraph 43, line 4) President Obama looks to youth because they carry not the burdens of their ancestors as they are born into a more accepting world. American young are Obama’s (peaceful) Aryan race(s). Their appearance does not blend. They stand out from one another.
Yet their minds blend more or less. And that is why they are perfect. Obama’s Aryan race is already on the move; Ashley Baia is one of his soldiers. President Obama shares Baia’s story from paragraph 44-47 and how she saw not in hues, but in virtue. “She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.” (paragraph 46, line 3) The relevance of Baia’s story presents itself when she asks her group members why they had joined her. All but one elderly black man has a specific reason. Obama shares the old man’s reason in antimetabole “And he doesn’t… Barack Obama.” (paragraph 47, lines 4&5)
The use of antimetabole in this context lowers the importance of the presented reasons enough to grasp all listener’s attention. “I am here because of Ashley.” said the old man; “I’m here because of Ashley.” said Obama. He repeats the same phrase but changes “I am” to “I’m.” The subtle change in punctuation makes his words feel like a whole different statement is being made-and there is. Obama is saying that Baia is an inspiration that has influenced him to this road of candidacy, and therefore has changed all of our lives.
Ashley Baia ate mustard and relish sandwiches for a year. That was her sacrifice to injustice. Obama’s silent inquiry then establishes itself: What
sacrifice have you made to combat injustice? America answered eight months later when Barack Obama became the first African American President of the United States.
Courtney from Study Moose
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