Barack Obama's 2008 Victory Speech

This study guide will help you analyze Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, analysis, topic, speaker, audience, language, modes of persuasion, circumstances, and intention.

Presentation of the speech

Title: “Barack Obama’s 2008 Victory Speech”
Speaker: Barack Obama
Where: Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois. 
When: 4th of November, 2008, when Barack Obama had just won the presidential election for the first time. 

Barack Obama (b. 1961) was the 44th US President and has also served as a senator. When he delivered this speech, he had just won the US presidential elections for the first time, after a campaign built on the slogan "Yes We Can". Obama was the first African-American to serve in this office.

You can watch the speech here.

NB: Barack Obama has also made other speeches based around the "Yes We Can"-slogan. If you are looking for his "Yes We Can"-speech from the New Hampshire primaries, you can find a study guide here.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 


The speech is filled with allusions –  references to various historical figures and events that the speaker finds relevant to America’s present or that he uses to build his own authority.

For example, the beginning of the speech alludes to the American Dream, as well as to Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King and his famous speech “I Have a Dream”: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive…”; “...and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that 'We Shall Overcome.' ”  This is important because it implies that Obama’s victory is an important milestone in the history of the US and the Civil Rights movement.

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Barack Obama's 2008 Victory Speech

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