Comments and discussion

When you analyze Barack Obama’s Selma speech, you should also discuss interesting or controversial statements and ideas.

Obama states in his speech that revolutionary movements around the world drew inspiration from the American fight for freedom (ll. 132-144). For example, he refers to the fall of the Berlin Wall – the concrete border between East and West Berlin. Although Obama’s idea that the fall of the Berlin Wall was inspired by Selma is oversimplified, it could be argued that the German people felt encouraged to fight for freedom by the words of two American presidents – in 1963, President John F. Kennedy held a speech in West Berlin. President Ronald Reagan held a similar speech there in 1987. Both speeches addressed the issue of the Wall, and Reagan explicitly asked for it to be torn down. Consider Obama’s references to other revolutionary movements around the world– are these connected in any way to events in America?

During his speech, Obama states: “We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South.” (ll. 296-297). It is interesting that Obama chooses to make this statement as the first African-American President of the ...

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