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Barack Obama's Address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention: Trauma, Compromise, Consilience, and the (Im)possibility of Racial Reconciliation

From: Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Volume 8, Number 4, Winter 2005
pp. 571-593 | 10.1353/rap.2006.0006

Abstract

The two authors of this article offer alternative readings of Barack Obama's July 27, 2004, address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC) as an experiment in interracial collaborative rhetorical criticism, one in which they "write together separately." David A. Frank judges Obama's speech a prophetic effort advancing the cause of racial healing. Mark Lawrence McPhail finds Obama's speech, particularly when it is compared to Reverend Al Sharpton's DNC speech of July 28, 2004, an old vision of racelessness. Despite their different readings of Obama's address, both authors conclude that rhetorical scholars have an important role to play in cultivating a climate of racial reconciliation.