Both Obama and King begin their speeches on racial inequality by recapping landmark pieces of legislation that were written to serve as the guideposts for protecting the rights of the American people and signed by important historical figures. Martin Luther King, Jr. while standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial refers to the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, in which slavery was abolished. In his speech, King made Obama starts his speech with a reference to the historical setting and a preamble of the Constitution “We the people in order to form a more perfect union...” This state of perfection, a term that Obama used later in the speech, became the overall theme of his address.
Issue of racism is dynamic.
Both Obama and King express how the issue of racism is dynamic, it is not static or unchanging. In this way, both men share the view that achieving racial equality is a process or journey, and not simply something that can made to be true based on the written word. People must always strive to change and in the words of Obama, strive for perfection.
Can’t just write it and it will happen, must activate change.
Obama states that although the Constitution is signed, it is ultimately unfinished; “It was stained by the nation’s original sin of slavery…” Obama takes the same standpoint that King did; he explains that the mere words were not enough to bring justice and freedom to all;...
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...and “let freedom ring.” It is only towards the end of his speech that Obama states his ideal of change: “I would not be running for President if I didn 't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation; the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.” It is in becoming President however, that Obama himself was able to fulfill the dream of King and make the first strides towards “a more perfect union” because he has forever changed the status quo by becoming the first African American president of the United States.
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