The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting

Bloomsbury USA
Available 08/18/09

After Senator Barack Obama delivered his celebrated speech, “A More Perfect Union,” on March 18, 2008, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd noted that only Barack Obama “could alchemize a nuanced 40-minute speech on race into must-see YouTube viewing for 20-year-olds.” Pundits established the speech’s historical eminence with comparisons to Abraham Lincoln’s “A House Divided” and Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream.” The future president had addressed one of the biggest issues facing his campaign—and our country—with an eloquence and honesty rarely before heard on a national stage.

The Speech brings together a distinguished lineup of writers and thinkers — among them Adam Mansbach, Alice Randall, Connie Schultz, and William Julius Wilson — in a multifaceted exploration of Obama’s address. Their original essays examine every aspect of the speech — literary, political, social, and cultural — and are punctuated by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson’s reportage on the issue of race in the now historic 2008 campaign. The Speech memorializes and gives full due to a speech that propelled Obama toward the White House, and prompted a nation to evaluate our imperfect but hopeful union.

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