Speeches of Barack Obama

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Barack Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States. Before he took office in 2009, he served in the Illinois Senate (1997–2004) and the United States Senate (2005–2008).

It was during his campaign for the United States Senate that he first made a speech that received nationwide attention; he gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. and stated "there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America". Obama began to run for president just three years after that speech. In response to a political controversy involving race during the primary campaign, he delivered his "A More Perfect Union" speech, which was widely seen as a critical point in the campaign.

Obama won election to the presidency in 2008 and re-election in 2012. Among the hundreds of speeches he has delivered since then include six speeches before Congress (including four State of the Union addresses), two victory speeches, a speech to the Islamic world in Egypt early in his first term, and a speech following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address[edit]

Obama points to the Kansas delegation while giving his address.

The keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC) was given by then Illinois State Senator, United States Senate candidate, and future President Barack Obama on the night of Tuesday, July 27, 2004. His unexpected landslide victory in the March 2004 Illinois U.S. Senate Democratic primary had made him overnight a rising star within the national Democratic Party, started speculation about a presidential future, and led to the reissue of his memoir, Dreams from My Father.[1] His convention keynote address was well received, which further elevated his status within the Democratic Party and led to his reissued memoir becoming a bestseller.[2]

Obama first met Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in the spring of 2004, and was just one of several names considered for the role of keynote speaker at the party's convention that summer. After being alerted in early July that he had been chosen to deliver the address, Obama largely wrote the speech himself, with later edits from the Kerry presidential campaign. Delivered on the second night of the DNC in just under 20 minutes, the address included both a biographical sketch of Obama, his own vision of America, and the reasons for his support of Kerry for the presidency. Unlike almost all prior and all subsequent convention keynote addresses, it was not televised by the commercial broadcast networks, and was only seen by a combined PBS, cable news and C-SPAN television audience of about 9 million. Since its delivery, several academics have studied the speech, both for the various narratives it describes as well as its implications for racial reconciliation.

A More Perfect Union[edit]

"A More Perfect Union"[3][4] is the name of a speech delivered by Senator Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 in the course of the contest for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination.[4] Speaking before an audience at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Obama was responding to a spike in the attention paid to controversial remarks made by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor and, until shortly before the speech, a participant in his campaign. Obama framed his response in terms of the broader issue of race in the United States. The speech's title was taken from the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

Obama addressed the subjects of racial tensions, white privilege, and race and inequality in the United States, discussing black "anger," white "resentment," and other issues as he sought to explain and contextualize Wright's controversial comments.[5] His speech closed with a plea to move beyond America's "racial stalemate" and address shared social problems.

On March 27, 2008, the Pew Research Center called the speech "arguably the biggest political event of the campaign so far," noting that 85 percent of Americans said they had heard at least a little about the speech and that 54 percent said they heard a lot about it.[6] Eventually, The New Yorker opined that the speech helped elect Obama as the President of the United States.[7]

Election victory speech, 2008[edit]

Following his victory in the United States presidential election, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave his victory speech[8] at Grant Park in his home city of Chicago, Illinois,[9] on November 4, 2008, before an estimated crowd of 240,000.[10][11] Viewed on television and the Internet by millions of people around the globe, Obama's speech focused on the major issues facing the United States and the world, all echoed through his campaign slogan of change.[12] He also mentioned his grandmother, who had died two nights earlier.

Speech to joint session of Congress, February 2009[edit]

Obama addressing Congress

United States President Barack Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of the 111th United States Congress on February 24, 2009.[13] It was not an official State of the Union address.[14] Obama's first State of the Union Address was the 2010 State of the Union Address. The speech was delivered on the floor of the chamber of the United States House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. Presiding over this joint session was the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Accompanying the Speaker of the House was the President of the United States Senate, Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States.

President Obama discussed the recently passed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as well as the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the state of the economy, and the future of the country.[15]

Attorney General Eric Holder was the designated survivor and did not attend the address in order to maintain a continuity of government. He was sequestered at a secret secure location for the duration of the event.[16]

A New Beginning[edit]

Main article: A New Beginning

"A New Beginning" is the name of a speech delivered by United States President Barack Obama on 4 June 2009, from the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University in Egypt. Al-Azhar University co-hosted the event. The speech honors a promise Obama made during his presidential campaign to give a major address to Muslims from a Muslim capital during his first few months as president.[17]

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that Egypt was chosen because "it is a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world."[18] Egypt is considered a key player in the Middle East peace process as well as a major recipient of American military and economic aid. Reuters reporter Ross Colvin reported that the speech would attempt to mend the United States' relations with the Muslim world, which he wrote were "severely damaged" during the presidency of George W. Bush.[17]

Speech to joint session of Congress, September 2009[edit]

United States President Barack Obama discussed his plan for health care reform in a speech delivered to a joint session of the 111th United States Congress on September 9, 2009 at 8:00 PM (EDT). The speech was delivered to Congress on the floor of the chamber of the United States House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the joint session and was accompanied by the President of the United States Senate, Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was chosen as the designated survivor and did not attend the speech.[19]

2010 State of the Union Address[edit]

President Obama delivering the State of the Union to the United States Congress with Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The 2010 State of the Union Address was given by United States President Barack Obama on January 27, 2010, to a joint session of Congress.[20] It was aired on all the major networks starting at 9 pm ET.[21] It was Obama's first State of the Union Address, though the president did give a non-State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress a month after taking office in 2009.

The speech was delivered in the United States House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. As always, the presiding officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Vice President Joe Biden (as Senate President) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat behind the president.

The theme for President Obama’s speech was “Rescue, Rebuild, Restore – a New Foundation for Prosperity”.[22][23][24] Among the topics that Obama covered in his speech were proposals for job creation and federal deficit reduction.[25]

Newly inaugurated Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell delivered the Republican response following the speech[26] from the floor of the House of Delegates at the Virginia State Capitol in front of over 300 people.[27]

Tucson memorial speech[edit]

President of the United States Barack Obama delivered a speech at the Together We Thrive: Tucson and America memorial on January 12, 2011, held in the McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus.

It honored the victims of the 2011 Tucson shooting and included themes of healing and national unity. Watched by more than 30 million Americans,[28] it drew widespread praise from politicians and commentators across the political spectrum and from abroad.

2011 State of the Union Address[edit]

The 2011 State of the Union Address was a speech given by President Barack Obama at 9 p.m. EST on January 25, 2011, in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives.[29] In this joint session Obama outlined his “vision for an America that’s more determined, more competitive, better positioned for the future—an America where we out-innovate, we out-educate, we out-build the rest of the world; where we take responsibility for our deficits; where we reform our government to meet the demands of a new age.”[30][31][32]

2012 State of the Union Address[edit]

The 2012 State of the Union Address was a speech given by President Barack Obama, from 9 p.m. to 10:17 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives.[33][34] In his speech, he focused on education reform, repairing America's infrastructure with money not used on the Iraq War, and creating new energy sources in America.

Speech to the Clinton Global Initiative, 2012[edit]

Barack Obama's speech to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012 took place on September 25.[35] The speech was on the subject of human trafficking, which Obama referred to as "modern slavery".[36] He stated that he did not use the term "slavery" lightly, knowing that this word conjures painful memories of previous forms of slavery in the United States.[37] In the speech, he told his administration to oppose human trafficking to a greater extent than the administration had done previously.[38] He also encouraged people to develop technology to combat human trafficking, and specifically put a call out to college students.[39] He also told the story of former human trafficking victim Sheila White, who, in 2003, was battered next to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey without anyone even asking her if she needed help.[40] Opening night of the human-trafficking-themed Canadian play She Has a Name in Edmonton, Alberta coincided with Obama's speech.[41] JD Supra called it a "landmark speech [that] is reflective of the fact that human trafficking and forced labor have become key priorities" for people wishing to address the human rights issues that result from business operations.[42] Jada Pinkett Smith responded to the speech by stating that she planned to personally meet with Obama to talk about how the United States might approach the issue of human trafficking.[43] California Against Slavery founder Daphne Phung was pleased with Obama's speech.[44] As part of the Obama administration's followup to the speech to the Clinton Global Initiative, there was a 25-person discussion at the White House about how to eliminate human trafficking globally.[45]

Speech to Roanoke, Virginia, 2012[edit]

The speech took place in Roanoke, Virginia, on July 13, 2012.[46]

Speech at the Brandenburg Gate Berlin, 2013[edit]

Speech at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, 2013[edit]

On August 28, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech was commemorated by an all day event featuring various speakers including President Barack Obama and John Lewis, the only speaker from the original rally to remain living.


  1. ^ Mendell, David (2004-03-17). "Obama routs Democratic foes; Ryan tops crowded GOP field; Hynes, Hull fall far short across state". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  2. ^ . (2004-08-02). "Star power. Showtime: Some are on the rise; others have long been fixtures in the firmament. A galaxy of bright Democratic lights". Newsweek. pp. 48–51. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  3. ^ "'A more perfect union' by Barack Obama". The Los Angeles Times. 2008-03-19. Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  4. ^ a b Barack Obama (2008-03-18). "Text of Obama's speech: A More Perfect Union". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 20 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  5. ^ Nedra Pickler and Matt Apuzzo (2008-03-18). "Obama confronts racial division". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-03-25. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  6. ^ Pew Research Center (2008-03-27). "Obama Speech on Race Arguably Biggest Event of Campaign". Archived from the original on 30 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  7. ^ Hendrik Hertzberg, "Obama Wins, The New Yorker, November 17, 2008, p. 40, found at The New Yorker website. Retrieved November 18, 2008.
  8. ^ CQ Transcripts Wire (November 4, 2008). "Sen. Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech in Chicago, Ill.". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  9. ^ "Obama Acceptance Speech". Times of the Internet. Obama Acceptance Speech. Retrieved 2008-11-05.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ "Chicago News - 11/05/08". ABC. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  11. ^ "Rally crowd heads home for the night". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  12. ^ Gilbert, Debbie (November 6, 2008). "Residents relate the personal significance of this election". Gainseville Times. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  13. ^ Levi, Michelle (February 10, 2009). "Date Set For Obama's First Address To Congress". CBS News. Archived from the original on 17 February 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Obama outlines ambitious agenda for 'lasting prosperity'". CNN.com. February 25, 2009. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2009. 
  15. ^ CNN
  16. ^ "Holder Draws 'Survivor' Duty". Washington Post. February 25, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Colvin, Ross (8 May 2009). "Obama to reach out to Muslims in Egypt speech". Reuters. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  18. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (8 May 2009). "Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs". Whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  19. ^ "Energy secretary stays away during Obama health care speech to joint session of Congress". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  20. ^ "Obama's first State of the Union address set for January 27". AFP. January 18, 2010. Archived from the original on January 22, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2010. 
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  22. ^ Zeleny, Jeff (January 27, 2010). "Obama’s Themes: ‘Rescue, Rebuild, Restore’". The New York Times. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Obama Vows to Restore a ‘Tested’ Nation". January 28, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  24. ^ Powers, Kirsten (January 28, 2010). "Finally learning from Bill Clinton". New York Post. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  25. ^ "After spending binge, White House says it will focus on deficits". Politico.com. November 13, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2010. President Barack Obama announced in next year's State of the Union address that he wants to focus extensively on cutting the federal deficit in 2010 – and downplayed other new domestic spending beyond jobs programs, according to top aides involved in the planning. 
  26. ^ "2010 Republican Response". BBC News. January 27, 2010. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved January 28, 2010. 
  27. ^ "McDonnell Trumps Obama's State of the Union Speech". Human Events. January 28, 2010. Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  28. ^ "More than 30 Million Watch President Obama’s Address at Tucson Memorial" NielsenWire, January 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  29. ^ H.Con.Res. 10
  30. ^ "Remarks by the President at Families USA Health Action Conference". January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2011. [dead link]
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  32. ^ "Video: President Addresses Health Care Advocates--"I’m happy to report that granny is safe"". January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2011. 
  33. ^ Kamen, Al (January 13, 2012). "Obama's State of the Union: A work in progress". The Washington Post. 
  34. ^ Calmes, Jackie (January 21, 2012). "Obama to Push Activism in State of the Union Address". The New York Times. 
  35. ^ Kaitlin Helm (November 29, 2012). "Students join Obama's campus challenge to end human trafficking". TCU360. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  36. ^ Ben Feller (September 25, 2012). "Clinton Global Initiative: Obama Outlines Steps To Fight Human Trafficking". The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  37. ^ Nathi Gule (November 12, 2012). "Tapping in on Obama-mania". Swazi Observer. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  38. ^ Clarissa Kell-Holland (November 15, 2012). "Transportation industry unites to stop human trafficking". Land Line Magazine. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  39. ^ Lee Rickwood (November 27, 2012). "Calgary tech company crowdsources fight against sex trafficking". Calgary Herald. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  40. ^ John Dankosky (April 17, 2013). Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery. Connecticut Public Radio. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  41. ^ Liz Nicholls (September 26, 2012). "Theatre review: Performances outshine writing in vivid activist play". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved October 1, 2012. 
  42. ^ Sarah A. Altschuller (December 1, 2012). "Corporate Responsibility for Human Trafficking & Five Steps that Your Company Can Take Right Now". JD Supra. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  43. ^ Nicholas Ballasy (September 14, 2012). "Actress Jada Pinkett Smith meeting with Valerie Jarrett at White House". The Daily Caller. 
  44. ^ Elizabeth Aguilera (November 11, 2012). "Momentum growing against human trafficking". U-T San Diego. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  45. ^ David Davis (December 2, 2012). "Watson to visit White House". Cleveland Daily Banner. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  46. ^ Weiner, Juli (July 18, 2012). "The Rise of Romney’s "You Didn’t Build That" Meme". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 

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