Barack Obama delivered his Selma speech at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in front of a live audience of 40,000 people. The speech was televised and shared on social media, increasing the audience to millions of people in the US and around the world.
If you watch the video of the speech, you will notice that Obama starts his speech while the live audience is cheering and tells them: “You know I love you back.” This is not present in the written form of the speech, but it shows the audience’s support for their President. It also shows his ability to connect with the audience right from the start of the speech, in an informal manner which he was known for and which contributed to his popularity throughout his presidency.
In the video, members of the audience can be heard reacting by cheering or laughing at various times during Obama’s speech. Notable moments are when Obama mentions God and the names of a few of those present at the Selma march.
Also present in the audience were the first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, and Congressman John Lewis, who participated in the Selma march. Another member of the audience who participated at the march is Bill Plante, who was a newsman at that time. About 100 members of Congress were also present in the audience, as Obama points out.
The first line of the speech adresses both John Lewis and the whole audience, as Obama lets them know that he views John Lewis as a ...