Best Speeches of
Barack Obama
through his 2009 Inauguration

Most Recent Speeches are Listed First

• Barack Obama -
Election Night Victory / Presidential Acceptance Speech - Nov 4 2008

Barack Obama - Night Before the Election - the Last Rally - Manassas Virginia - Nov 3 2008

• Barack Obama - Democratic Nominee Acceptance Speech
2008 National Democratic Convention

Barack Obama - "A World that Stands as One" - Berlin Germany - July 2008

• Barack Obama - Final Primary Night:
Presumptive Nominee Speech

• Barack Obama - North Carolina Primary Night

• Barack Obama - Pennsylvania Primary Night

• Barack Obama - AP Annual Luncheon

• Barack Obama - A More Perfect Union
“The Race Speech”

• Barack Obama - Texas and Ohio Primary Night

• Barack Obama - Potomac Primary Night

• Barack Obama - Super Tuesday

Barack Obama - Iowa Caucus Night

Barack Obama - California Democratic Convention - April 28, 2007

Barack Obama - Announcement For President - Feb 10 2007

Barack Obama - Floor Statement on Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007

Barack Obama - The Time Has Come for Universal Health Care

Barack Obama - Floor Statement on President's Decision to Increase Troops in Iraq

Barack Obama - Race Against Time - World AIDS Day Speech

Barack Obama - A Way Forward in Iraq

Barack Obama - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Groundbreaking Ceremony

Barack Obama - Military Commission Legislation

Barack Obama - Floor Statement on the Habeas Corpus Amendment

Barack Obama - Energy Independence: A Call for Leadership

Barack Obama - An Honest Government, A Hopeful Future

Barack Obama - Xavier University Commencement Address

Barack Obama - AFSCME National Convention

Barack Obama - Vote against the Gulf of Mexico Energy Bill

Barack Obama - Support of H.R. 9, the Voting Rights Act

Barack Obama - Statement of Support for Stem Cell Research

Barack Obama - Campus Progress Annual Conference

Barack Obama - “Call to Renewal” Keynote Address

Barack Obama - Iraq Debate

Barack Obama - Northwestern University Commencement Address

Barack Obama - Katrina Reconstruction

Barack Obama - Take Back America

Barack Obama - Network Neutrality

Barack Obama - Federal Marriage Amendment

Barack Obama - University of Massachusetts at Boston Commencement Address

Barack Obama - General Michael Hayden Nomination

Barack Obama - Opposition to the Amendment Requiring a Photo ID to Vote

Barack Obama - Employment Verification Amendment for the Immigration Bill

Barack Obama - Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Commencement Address

Barack Obama - Honoring Our Commitment to Veterans

Barack Obama - EMILY's List Annual Luncheon

Barack Obama - A Real Solution for High Gas Prices

Barack Obama - Immigration Rallies

Barack Obama - Amendment to Stop No-Bid Contracts for Gulf Coast Recovery and Reconstruction

Barack Obama - Updates on Darfur, Immigration, Gas Prices

Barack Obama - Immigration Reform

Barack Obama - Energy Independence and the Safety of Our Planet

Barack Obama - Immigration Reform

Barack Obama - Improving Chemical Plant Security

Barack Obama - 21st Century Schools for a 21st Century Economy

Barack Obama - Meals Amendment

Barack Obama - Debate on Lobbying and Ethics Reform

Barack Obama - Energy Security is National Security - Governor's Ethanol Coalition

Barack Obama - Floor Statement S.2271 - PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

Barack Obama - Darfur: Current Policy Not Enough

Barack Obama - Foreign Relations Committee regarding Lugar-Obama legislation S.1949

Barack Obama - Hurricane Katrina Child Assistance Amendment

Barack Obama - Supreme Court Nomination of Samuel Alito - Podcast

Barack Obama - Confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. - Speech

Barack Obama - Lobbying Reform Summit National Press Club

Barack Obama - Meeting on Iraq with President Bush

Barack Obama - Remarks: Honest Leadership and Open Government

Barack Obama - From the Road: Israel and the Palestinian territories

Barack Obama - From the Road: Speaking with American Troops in Iraq

Barack Obama - The PATRIOT Act

Barack Obama - Moving Forward in Iraq - Chicago Council on Foreign Relations

Barack Obama - Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Ceremony

Barack Obama - National Women's Law Center

Barack Obama - "Sex on TV 4" Report

Barack Obama - Non-Proliferation and Russia: The Challenges Ahead

Barack Obama - Chicago White Sox

Barack Obama - Death of Rosa Parks

Barack Obama - Teaching Our Kids in a 21st Century Economy

Barack Obama - Avian Flu

Barack Obama - Confirmation of Judge John Roberts

Barack Obama - Resources for the Future

Barack Obama - Statement on Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

Barack Obama - AFL-CIO National Convention

Barack Obama - Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill and the Avian Flu

Barack Obama - American Legion Conference

Barack Obama - Literacy and Education in a 21st-Century Economy

Barack Obama - Pritzker School of Medicine Commencement

Barack Obama - Nomination of Justice Janice Rogers Brown

Barack Obama - Knox College Commencement

Barack Obama - Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

Barack Obama - America’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Policy Remarks

Barack Obama - Rockford Register Star Young American Awards

Barack Obama - NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner

Barack Obama - National Press Club

Barack Obama - SIUC College of Agriculture's 50th Anniversary

Barack Obama - Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Barack Obama - Amendment for Meals/Phone Service to Wounded Veterans

Barack Obama - The Nuclear Option

Barack Obama - Confirmation Hearing of John Bolton

Barack Obama - Herblock Foundation Annual Lecture

Barack Obama - American Legion Legislative Rally

Barack Obama - CURE Keynote Address

Barack Obama - Remarks of TechNet

Barack Obama - S256, the Bankruptcy Abuse & Prevention Act of 2005

Barack Obama - John Lewis's 65th Birthday Gala

Barack Obama - Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention

Barack Obama - 2002 Speech Against the Iraq War

AFSCME National Convention - Challenge for Labor

TOPIC: Economy & Labor
August 7, 2006
AFSCME National Convention
Complete Text

Thank you, and welcome to Chicago.

We meet here at a challenging time for labor and a challenging time for America. All across the country, from nurses in Chicago to correctional officers in Atlanta to sanitation workers in L.A., Americans have been looking to the future with more anxiety than hope. As transformations in technology and communication have ushered in a global economy with new rules and new risks, they've watched their government do its best to try and shift those risks onto the backs of the American worker. And they wonder how they will ever keep up.

In coffee shops and town meetings, in VFW halls and right here in this room, the questions are all the same. Will I be able to leave my children a better world than I was given? Will I be able to save enough to send them to college or plan for a secure retirement? Will my job even be there tomorrow? Who will stand up for me in this new world?

In this time of change and uncertainty, these questions are expected - but I want you to know today they are by no means unique. Throughout our history, they have been asked and then answered by Americans who have stood in your shoes and shared your concerns.

In the middle of the last century, on the restless streets of Memphis, it was a group of AFSCME sanitation workers who took up this charge. For years they had served their city without complaint, picking up other people's trash for little pay and even less respect. Passers-by would call them "walking buzzards," and in the segregated South, most were forced to use separate drinking fountains and bathrooms.

But as the civil rights movement gained steam and they watched the marches and saw the boycotts and heard about the passage of voting rights, the workers in Memphis decided that they'd had enough, and in 1968, over 1,000 went on strike.

Their demands were simple. Recognition of their union. The right to bargain. A few cents more an hour.

But the opposition was fierce. Their vigils were met with handcuffs. Their protests turned back with mace. One march was interrupted by police gunfire and tear gas, and when the smoke cleared, 280 had been arrested, 60 were wounded, and one 16-year old boy lay dead.

And still, the city would not give in.

Now, the workers could have gone home, or they could've gone back to work, or they could've waited for someone else to help them, but they didn't. They kept marching. They drew ministers and high school students and civil rights activists to their cause, and at the beginning of the third straight month, Dr. King himself came down to Memphis.

At this point, the story of the sanitation workers merges with the larger saga of the Civil Rights Movement. On April 3rd, we know that King gave his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" sermon. On April 4th, he was shot and killed by James Earl Ray as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine hotel. And on April 8th, a day before he was buried, his wife Coretta led the sanitation workers on one final march through the city of Memphis - a march that would culminate in the union contract that the workers had sought for so long.

This is the legacy you inherit today. It's a legacy of courage, a legacy of action, a legacy of achieving the greatest triumphs amidst the greatest odds. It's a story as American as any - that at the edge of despair, in the shadow of hopelessness, ordinary people make the extraordinary decision that if we stand together, we rise together.

What those workers made real in Memphis - and what we have to make real today - is the idea that in this country, we value the labor of every American. That we're willing to respect that labor and reward it with a few basic guarantees - wages that can raise a family, health care if we get sick, a retirement that's dignified, working conditions that are safe.

The struggle to secure these guarantees has always been at the heart of the labor movement - and the opposition has always been powerful. But today, we're facing a challenge like none we've seen before.

At the very moment that globalization is changing the rules of the game on the American worker - making it harder to compete with cheaper, highly-skilled workers all over the world - the people running Washington are responding with a philosophy that says government has no role in solving these problems; that the services you all provide every day are better left to the whims of the private sector.

They're telling us we're better off if we dismantle government - if we divvy it up into individual tax breaks, hand 'em out, and encourage everyone to go buy your own health care, your own retirement security, your own child care, their own schools, your own private security force, your own roads, their own levees...

It's called the Ownership Society in Washington. But in our past there has been another term for it - Social Darwinism - every man or women for him or herself.

It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford - life isn't fair. It allows us to say to the child who didn't have the foresight to choose the right parents or be born in the right suburb - pick yourself up by your bootstraps. It lets us say to the guy who worked twenty or thirty years in the factory and then watched his plant move out to Mexico or China - we're sorry, but you're on your own.

It's a bracing idea. It's a tempting idea. And it's the easiest thing in the world.

But there's just one problem. It doesn't work. It ignores our history. It ignores the fact that it has been government research and investment that made the railways and the internet possible. It has been the creation of a massive middle class, through decent wages and benefits and public schools - that has allowed all of us to prosper. And it has been the ability of working men and women to join together in unions that has allowed our rising tide to lift every boat.

Yes, our greatness as a nation has depended on individual initiative, on a belief in the free market. But it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, of mutual responsibility. The idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we're all in it together and everybody's got a shot at opportunity.

Americans know this. We know that government can't solve all our problems - and we don't want it to.

But we also know that there are some things we can't do on our own. We know that there are some things we do better together.

We know that we've been called in churches and mosques, synagogues and Sunday schools to love our neighbors as ourselves; to be our brother's keeper; to be our sister's keeper. That we have individual responsibility, but we also have collective responsibility to each other.

That's what America is. That's what those workers in Memphis fought for. And that's what we fight for today.

Some of what we need to do is clear. When you have a Republican Congress that says "no" to organizing rights, "no" to overtime pay, "no" to a higher minimum wage, "no" to Social Security, and "no" to Medicaid, it's time to say "no" to that Congress and put Democrats in charge come November.

But if we really want to lead - if we really hope to convince the country that our vision of government is better than theirs - we're gonna need more than just "no." We're gonna need to tell the country what our plan is for the 21st century worker - what we'll do to give every American the chance to get ahead and raise their family.

I won't stand up here and say that coming up with this strategy will be easy, or pretend to know all the answers.

But there's a few places we can start.

We can start by fixing our schools to make sure every child in America has the education and the skills they need to compete. We can start by making sure that college is affordable for every American who wants to go. And by giving unions a real role in creating a real system of lifelong learning so that workers who lose a job really can retrain for other high-wage jobs.

In this new economy, we can start giving our workers a chance by making sure that no matter where you work or how many times you switch jobs, you will have health care and a pension you can take with you always.

We'll never rise together if we allow medical bills to swallow family budgets or let people retire penniless after a lifetime of hard work, and so we can start by demanding that when it comes to commitments made to working men and women on health care and pensions, a promise made is a promise kept.

And in a world where two-income households are trying to juggle work and family, we can start giving workers a chance with policies that give families a chance. When a parent takes parental leave, we shouldn't act like caring for a newborn baby is a three-month break - we should let them keep their salary. When parents are working and their children need care, we should make sure that care is affordable, and that our kids can go to school earlier and longer so they have a safe place to learn while their parents are at work. And when a mom or a dad has to leave work to care for a sick child, we should make sure it doesn't result in a pink slip.

Our vision of America is not one where a big government runs our lives; it's one that gives every American the opportunity to make the most of their lives. It's not one that tells us we're on our own, it's one that realizes that we rise or fall together as one people.

And yet, we also know that, in the end, neither policy nor politics can replace heart and courage in the struggle you now face. Because in the brief history of the American experiment, it has been the ability of ordinary Americans to act on both that has allowed our nation to achieve extraordinary things.

Nearly forty years ago, the strike in Memphis came to an end.

But today, the march goes on.

Every year, on April 4th, the sanitation workers of Local 1733 gather again to march the route that led them to justice so long ago. Sometimes they walk the whole way, other years a bus comes to carry them the last few miles.

They march to remember, but they also march because they know our journey isn't complete - they know we have fights left to win; that we have dreams still unfulfilled.

A few years back, one of these workers, a man named Malcolm Pryor, told a reporter, "You have to remind people: We are not free yet. As long as I march, Dr. King's soul is still rejoicing that people are still trying."

And so today I ask you to keep marching.

As long as there are those who are jobless, I ask you to keep marching for jobs.

As long as there are those who struggle to raise a family on low wages and few benefits, I ask you to keep marching for opportunity.

As long as there are those who can't organize or unionize or bargain for a better life, I ask you to keep marching for solidarity.

And as long as there are those who try to privatize our government and decimate our social programs and peddle a philosophy of trickle-down and on-your-own, I ask you to keep marching for a vision of America where we rise or fall as one nation under God.

My friends, it's time again to march for freedom. Time again to march for hope. Time again to march towards the tomorrow that so many have reached for so many times in our past. I know we can get there, and I can't wait to try. Thank you, and good luck.


You can only imagine how many different ways people type the name Barack Obama. Here is a sampling for his first name: Barac, Barach, Baracks, Barak, Baraka, Barrack, Barrak, Berack, Borack, Borak, Brack, Brach, Brock even, Rocco. There are just as many for his last name: Abama, Bama, Bamma, Obma, Obamas, Obamma, Obana, Obamo, Obbama, Oboma, Obomba, Obombma, Obomha, Oblama, Omaba, Oblamma and (ready for this?) Ohama. And of course there's Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein. Here are some of the ways it comes out: Hissein, Hussain, Husein, Hussin, Hussane and Hussien.