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Michelle Obama's DNC speech 2020

This study guide will help you analyze Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) 2020. In addition to help with your analysis, you can find a summary of the text and help for assessing its success.

Presentation of the text

Title: Michelle Obama’s DNC speech (2020)
Sender: Michelle Obama
Genre: Speech

Michelle Obama (b. 1964) is the former First Lady of the United States and the wife of former President Barack Obama. Michelle Obama was actively involved in her husband’s political campaigns in 2008 and 2012. After leaving the White House, she remained involved in areas such as women’s rights, LGBT rights, and education. During the 2020 US presidential election campaign, Michelle Obama supported Democrat candidate Joe Biden. 

You can watch the speech here.

Extract

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide:

Imagery

Obama inserts powerful imagery in her speech as well. She mentions the “toil and sweat and blood” (l. 6) of those who came before her, which is a powerful image that reminds the audience of the sacrifices made by Obama’s African-American ancestors. The visually descriptive language is a reference to slavery and the obstacles that African Americans have had to overcome across the ages. 

Imagery is also used when Obama talks about what it takes to be President of the US: “A president's words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts” (ll. 19-20). The figurative language used here highlights the difficult position of a president, who must be firm, yet fully aware of his power. 

Then, descriptive language is also used when Obama talks about “going high”: “Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top” (ll. 79-80). Obama’s figurative language suggests that fighting against hatred and discrimination is as difficult as climbing a mountain bare-handed. 

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Michelle Obama's DNC speech 2020

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