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This Week in Illinois History provides a 90-second snapshot of an event significant to Illinois history. Join Host Clint Cargile as he covers big events while also exposing little-known pieces of Illinois history.

This Week In Illinois History: Barack Obama Steps Onto The National Stage (July 27, 2004)

Barack Obama

On July 27, 2004, a fairly unknown 42-year-old Illinois state senator delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Barack Obama had never held national office, but four months earlier, he had won the Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. senate by an unexpected landslide. He was campaigning against controversial Republican candidate Jack Ryan at the time of the convention address.

Obama’s DNC speech propelled him onto the national stage and defined what America meant to him:

"It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too."

Barack Obama’s opponent dropped out of the race and was replaced by out-of-state candidate Alan Keyes, who stood little chance of winning the election. In November 2004, Obama won by another landslide. He was elected the nation’s 44th president four years later.

To view Obama’s entire 2004 DNC speech click here.