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My research contains information that has been very well researched because

it happens to be the most talked about topic in the news today. Since Barack Obama

was elected president on November 4, 2008 there have been many articles about his

character and how his ideals fit with that of the nation he has just persuaded to vote

him into office. By using articles, like Gorge Lakoff’s “What made a great Speech great,”

I was able to better understand from a linguist and scholar understand the

importance Obama has made in creating unity in our country. According to Lakoff,

Obama bring the country together because he speaks about our collective ideals and

values and the importance of helping each other, a kind of social responsibility. I

used Lokoff because he is a scholar that has done research on government politics

which I found useful as well. I would not, though, include an article that is bias and

without information to back up their claim.

The second piece of evidence that was crucial to my research was the speech,

‘A More Perfect Union’ by Barack Obama. The reason why I chose this speech was

because as I watched it, the emotions stirred inside my soul, and I knew this was a

very special moment. Later, with the news media, and the conversations in class it

was confirmed. The speech helped mend the sadness and helped unify a country

racially divided. More importantly it was a speech that reminded the people of

America what we stood for, what we were founded on, and how we can help make

the American dream a reality. With empathy, compassion, a new form of politics

Obama has begun the journey for us, and he has given us the opportunity to follow.

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I was seventeen when I took my first Human Communication course, HCOM 211:

Reading Writing and Critical Thinking. Fresh out of High School and with no real

communication skills whatsoever, I thought I knew everything about communicating with

others. I believed being bold, loud, condescending, and, of course, winning was the goal

in any conversation, and I was wrong. I have come a long way from those adolescent

years, and have continued to work on becoming a socially conscious, ethical thinker. This

course, as young as I may have been, and as long ago as it was, gave me the power to

create the solid foundation I am standing on today.

This course gave me a glimpse of how communicating effectively can create a

better world, and to believe that as a diverse society, we can become partners in changing

culturally diverse world. And even as I finished my HCOM 309: Intercultural

Communication Relating to Whiteness course this semester, I was reaffirmed that this is

true. The culmination of courses I received have given me the opportunity to become

aware of the injustices of the past and in societies today, but they have also given me the

hope that by becoming better communicators we may be able to arrive sooner.

The HCOM department has not only been a great place to start and finish my

undergraduate work, it has also been a great place to study history, learn media skills,

archive oral histories, and create lifelong friendships. I suppose the one thing I do regret

is not making more time in the courses I have taken, in order to retrieve all the

information I could. These courses have given me the strength to make my current

relationships work and the tools needed to teach my daughter how to become an

effective, compassionate, and empathic communicator.

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This capstone was definitely a journey. I started off strong in pre-capstone by

allowing myself ample time to research sources and create the beginnings of a great

interdisciplinary capstone. As the Capstone course began I saw there were challenges in

my capstone topic I was unable to fix in a short period of time so I changed my topic and

started researching as my peers began to write.

I made several adjustments, two 10 page drafts that were rejected, and finally

after a month or so of deliberating a topic I began writing the capstone you hold in your

hand. I stayed up late, woke up early, borrowed books, accumulated about 100 pages of

notes and then I started to write. It was stressful on my daughter, my partner, my

professors, and ultimately on me.

Yet I was not worried, I knew I had the tools and resources it took to make a great

capstone, and ultimately, I had professors that believed in me. Once I garnered a topic, I

pulled all the necessary books from my shelf that I had kept from other courses and

reviewed the scribbled notes I left at the end of the chapters. I used the internet as a

resource, articles and current newspapers for inspiration.

Ultimately, what I learned throughout the process was to create and keep up to

date appointments wit your professors, and to write as much before the course begins in

order to work out the kinks. I also learned that keeping books from previous courses are

extremely useful because they are somewhat summarized, and are highlighted. I also

leaned that taking math and a capstone course at the same time is stressful, but with help

from family and friends it is manageable.

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Corbett, Edward P., and Robert J. Connors. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern

Student. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

This book includes material that explains rhetoric in three different forms:

argument arrangement, and style. In my research I only used Chapter 2, the

Arrangement of Arguments, as a point of interest. This book concluded that the

ability to persuade is not merely used to prove an argument; as it may be, we are

human being that have are free to make good and bad choice, thus persuade on

behalf of good will and/or self interest. This was a great resource because it helped

me better grasp the concept of persuasion, and the different definitions that have

been allocated to it by prominent philosophers over a period of time. This book is

research based, and contains information from many different scholars that make

this source extremely reliable, and it is currently on its fourth edition.

This is a helpful tool in shaping my argument because it proves that the art of

persuasion is nothing new. This helps shape my argument by allowing me to better

understand the importance a speech makes in regards to someone’s character.

Ideally, we assume that someone who has the ability to persuade, “exclusively on the

level of reason,” but this is not very common. Therefore Barack Obama, who has

chosen to take the path less taken to create social change, should be considered one

of the most current agents of change on this reason especially.

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Lama, Dalai. Ethics for the New Millennium. New York: Riverhead Trade

(Paperbacks), 2001.

The Dalai Lama reflects on the power of empathy. He suggests that by

becoming more understanding, compassionate, and caring we can achieve a deeper

level of happiness. He discuses different ways we can become a universal society

that dependent from on another, and lays out the groundwork to help us achieve

this. Through different levels of commitment, like virtue, restraint, compassion that

can lead to peace throughout the world.

I use an excerpt from chapter eight, The Ethic of Compassion in order to

provide how compassion does not only create well being to those you help, but it

does so to the person being compassionate. I found this source extremely useful in

trying to understand how ethics play a role in building a greater society, and how

Obama identifies through his speech such thinking. I find this book reliable because

it comes from a person who lives his beliefs in his daily life. He is educated in his

religion and the world’s stance on religion. He hope to achieve, I believe, to be a

good person above all else, and to help others achieve this as well.

It brings a new perspective to my research because I am able to understand

how important being ethical in the new millennium and beyond really is. That we

must cherish one another’s core values at the human level in order to have peace and

harmony. It gives me the compare his work to that of Obama’s and how they are

similar, and where they are difference.

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Lakoff, George. "What Made Obama's Speech Great." Alter Net. 26 Mar. 2008. 29 Oct.

2008. <http://>.

Topic: Is the speech “A More Perfect Union” about race?

Position: No. It is about Americans core values and ideals.

As individuals we have different ways of seeing and being in the world, yet

we all want similar things and hold similar values. The most fundamental of them is

democracy and our ability to hold the law of the land as a stepping stone to what we

want to achieve. So when Barack Obama was under “severe political attack” he

choose not solely to talk about race or policies, instead he described the country as

he sees it. Lokoff did not, though, disregard the speech as a race speech, yet he

concluded that it was much more “about inclusiveness not divisiveness; about

responsibility for each other not just oneself; about seeing the country and world in

terms of cooperation, not competition or isolation.” And he strongly agrees with

what Obama by “exemplifying those themes” where personal responsibility is not

about self-interest but about helping others.

This is a great example of how I plan to lay out the foundation to my research

paper. I will use this article as a tool to better understand how and why the speech

was written. It creates a better understanding of how I may see and understand the

“race speech” Obama gave, but better yet and example of the way people are seeing

the world at this point in our history.

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Gutierrez, David G. Walls and Mirrors - Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants

and the Politics of Ethnicity. New York: University of California P, 1995.

Walls and Mirrors is meant to inform the reader of the past 100 years of

history relating to Mexican Americans and Immigrants in the Southwest. He covers a

range of history that starts from the early 1848 to 1980’s. He informs the reader of the

tragedy’s, hope, and the importance behind the history, and of the ethical dilemmas

occurring in politics throughout these times. This book also covered Cesar Chavez

that pertains to my research to depict who and what he has done for the Farm

workers in California.

I find this book to be extraordinarily precise, on topic, and factual. This book

is a great resource if trying to understand or learn the history of the Mexican people,

and culture. Compared to another counterpart like, “Mexicanos” by Manuel G.

Gonzales, Mr. Gutierrez relies on statistical data that includes personal quotes that

make his arguments stronger, and more helpful. The goal of this book is merely to

inform the reader of the historical value behind the Mexican people, and to

understand their present by first understanding their past.

This book was extremely helpful because it gave me the resources to fill in the

blanks for Cesar Chavez, and the history behind and throughout his fight to create a

Union for the farm workers in Delano, California and beyond.

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Hall Jamieson, Kathleen. Eloquence in an Electronic Age : The Transformation of

Political Speechmaking. New York: Oxford UP, Incorporated, 1990.

There are many arguments Jamieson tries to point out in her book, but the

most relevant to my research was about how a great speech is able, and will to

transcend through time. She is able to put together a compilation of speeches and

cite their significance today, as well as one could have at the time they were made.

She covers the different eras and how those eras are now marked by their famous


This is an extremely useful book because it was bias, she agreed and wanted

other to agree with her that there is significance behind speechmaking, and now

with a new era of technical gadgets it will become more impressive. This book,

however fairs rather well when it is compared to current articles about, for example,

how Obama’s speech is a new force because of his eloquent style and will, like JFK

and MLK depict to other generation the turmoil that was happening at the beginning

of the 21st century.

This book was useful because it laid the foundation to better understand how

speech, or the eloquence of speech can and will transcend time. A theme I will use in

my paper. This book correlates with what I want my research paper to resonate, the

importance of speech, and how Obama, with his ‘A More Perfect’ Union resonates.

The book, though, is a bit outdated, and lacks current information that includes

social networking as a tool.

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Mandela, Nelson. Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography. Boston: Little Brown &

Company, 1996.

The point of this book was to describe Mandela’s process from being a young

boy to becoming a hopeful, compassionate, understanding, man who only wanted to

help his country move towards a more equal society. He points out the many

atrocities that have occurred in South Africa, and how the government has aided in

those efforts to keep the African people away from the minority ‘white” Afrikaan’s.

It ends when he leaves prison, after being in jail for 27 years, to become part of the

first democratic election in South Africa.

He won that election, and became the first Black President. This source is

reliable because it was an autobiographical book that was written by Mandela

himself. Mandela stays objective. He does not denote anyone, rather he lays the facts

down so others can make their mind over what they think should be considered ill-

minded. The information corresponds to what was happening in the country at the

time, and it comes with pictures to really bring life to his words, as sad as some may


This book was helpful in understanding Mandela for whom he was and who

he has became, as well as giving me the history of South Africa. I was able to pick

out the similarities and the differences between Obama and Mandela, and the

significance this holds.

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Obama, Barack. "'A More Perfect Union'" Press Speech. Constitutional Hall,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 18 Mar. 2008.

The foundation of this country was completed with the understanding that

we are not a country of individuals; we are a country that believes "we cannot solve

the challenges of our time unless we solve them together.” Obama clearly marks

how important it is and has been for change to happen to a country that has yet been

able to understand its potential. And although the nation is not perfect, "This union

may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always

be perfected." Our strengths then is our democracy and our ability to unite in order

to make sure things become better for the people of America, and beyond.

Obama's speech depicts not only love for this country, his family, or religious

values he is also able to stretch the understanding of how and why we should care

and be a more empathic society. "The children of America are not those kids, they are

our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy." That we

can achieve greatness and our kids can be great, united we can make thing happen.

I plan on using Obama's speech as a main point in my essay because it clearly

states where the majority of the nations way of being and seeing is in the 2008

presidential election. His ability to use rhetoric not only persuade but to place the

importance of empathy as a core value is one main reason the nation is becoming

more aware of its individual role in the policies of today, and tomorrow.

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Obama, Barack. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American

Dream. New York: Crown, 2006.

Obama argues about the important of shared values, and the inconsistencies

the government has avoided in acknowledging them. He points out that we must be

able to able to understand how our country was formed to truly understand its

magnificence. He covers his own personal life story as well as his stance on the war

in Iraq, values, and government.

This was a great source because I was able to learn more about what Obama

stood for, and what his thoughts were on many pressing issues that have also been

dealt with in the past by others. This is a reliable source because it was written by

Obama himself, which makes it just as reliable as the speech he gave in Philadelphia.

The goal was to inform. To inform the audience about who he was, where he has

been and how this has shaped his thoughts for a better future.

I thought this was a great resource because it gave me a chance to read what

was important for him, and how he felt about the situation he was writing about.

This book helps shape my argument that Obama is currently our agent of change.

He has been able to effectively communicate his values and beliefs for the future of

this country and beyond by helping others see them and taking action because they

want to see that vision come true too. That is the power Obama has the ability to

mobilize people, to think beyond themselves, and feel a sense of common


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FALL 2008

Beatriz Mendoza
Agents of Change
History, Oral History and New Media and Writing and Rhetoric

Project Abstract: Selected Research Evidence:

President elect-Barack Questions: My research contained
Obama has become primary sources that I used
synonymous for hope in the - How do Barack throughout my paper as
eyes of the American people, Obama’s characteristics evidence in my
and abroad. mirror other agents of comparisons. This made
I address the following my evidence of comparison
social change in his
question: How do Barack stronger because I was
fight for social equality?
Obama’s characteristics
- Why is this important? comparing Obama to other
mirror other agents of social
- Who does he mirror? agents of change directly.
change in his fight for social
equality? - What are the
characteristics mirrored Select Bibliography:
Lakoff, George. "What Made Obama's
This is important because we by Obama? Speech Great." Alter Net. 26 Mar.
2008. 29 Oct. 2008
are living in an age of self-
interest and individual Key Findings: Obama, Barack H. "'A More Perfect
responsibility that creates Union'" National Constitution Center,
Barack Obama’s educational Philidalphia, Pensylvania. 18 Mar.
divisiveness, inequalities, background has proven 2008.
and harbors resentments successful in gathering the Nichols, John. "Mandela's Message."
that ultimately undermine
masses by giving them the The Nation. 05 Nov. 2008. 15 Dec.
our quality of life. By 2008.
opportunity to understand
understanding agents of Mandela, Nelson. "Text of Nelson
the history that plagues the
change throughout history Mandela’s Letter to Senator Obama." 5
we are able to see how black , white, Latino, Asian, Nov. 2008. New York Times. 15 Dec.
Obama mirrors them, and and Native America people
why we should follow in his of the United States. He has Corbett, Edward P., and Robert J.
Connors. Classical Rhetoric for the
footsteps to create a better crossed cultural boundaries Modern Student. New York: Oxford
tomorrow, for all our to create a more unified UP, 1998
children. society. Obama, like Nelson Gutierrez, David G. Walls and Mirrors -
Mandela, Martin Luther Mexican Americans, Mexican
Immigrants and the Politics of
Project Context & King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, the Ethnicity. New York: University of
Contributions: Dalai Lama, and Mahatma California P, 1995
I hope to contribute a better
Gandhi all share the "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." The King
understanding of our new Center. 2004. 15 Dec. 2008
presidents ability to create a following characteristics: <http://

new America that is aware Optimism, Passion, k/index.html>.

and socially responsible in Courage, Fair-Mindedness, “Biographical Outline of Dr. Martin

creating a better future. and Moral Courage. Luther King Jr.” The King Center.
2004. 15 Dec. 2008.

Mandela, Nelson. Mandela: An

Illustrated Autobiography. Boston:
Little Brown & Company, 1996.

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