Posted on Jan 11, 2017
Obama bid farewell to America overnight in an emotionally charged speech that sought to calm fears over the future. He acknowledged that the United States faces many threats at home and abroad, including economic issues and terrorism, but he also tried to convey a firm message of optimism and hope.
The speech in Chicago was watched by millions and Obama listed the triumphs and successes of his tenure, as well as the failures and broken promises. His speech was for the most part powerful with much talk of difference and race, but he ended by wiping tears away from his face and thanking his loving and supportive family.
“Michelle LaVaughn Robinson of the South Side, for the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.”
Ever the statesman, Obama told the powerful message well and here are some of the highlights of the speech:
“Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”
“There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do.”
“Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. Butlaws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
“I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can. Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.”