This part of the study guide will help you expand your perspective on Barack Obama’s Selma speech by looking at the historical perspective and other speeches by Barack Obama and other politician…


Current issues

When looking at the relevance of the speech today, you should consider reviewing how the issues mentioned in the speech evolved.

In his speech, Obama touches on issues such as racism and police violence in present-day America. Since Obama’s speech in 2015, other cases where African Americans were killed by police officers have been labeled a result of police racism. Moreover, many of these police officers have been acquitted of their crimes. The publicity surrou…


Other speeches

To gain a broader perspective on Barack Obama’s Selma speech, you could consider comparing it to other speeches by Obama and by other speakers.

For example, you could compare it to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was made in August, 1963, two years before the Selma to Montgomery marches. Obama makes an allusion to this speech in his Selma Speech:

In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher – met on this bridge. (ll. 30-34)

King’s speech was made at the conclusion of the March on Washington, which contributed …

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