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......more
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.
T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting is the director of Vanderbilt University's Program in African American and Diaspora Studies and the W. T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies. She is the author of four books, including the award-winning Pimps Up, Ho's Down, and the editor or coeditor of five others, most recently The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.
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