5 most powerful moments of Barack Obama’s farewell address

Photo: A.R. Shaw

President Barack Obama took one last victory lap by giving a farewell speech in front of a capacity crowd at McCormick Place in Chicago. The historic speech highlighted the Obama administration’s achievements and his ideas on moving forward as a nation.

Here are the five most powerful moments of Barack Obama’s farewell address.


Obama’s examination of race

Obama confronted the issue of race in America and called for self-examination. If the nation can take the time to understand diverse backgrounds, we all can begin to stop bigotry and systemic oppression.

“So if we’re going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination — in hiring, and in housing, and in education, and in the criminal justice system,” Obama said. “That is what our Constitution and our highest ideals require. For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face — not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like he’s got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change.  We have to pay attention, and listen. For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness. When they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment but the equal treatment that our Founders promised. So regardless of the station that we occupy, we all have to try harder. We all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.”


Obama’s love for Michelle Obama and family

Obama took a moment to share how Michelle Obama had an impact on his life and also spoke on seeing his daughters grow during the past eight years.

“Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl 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,” Obama said. “You took on a role you didn’t ask for and you made it your own, with grace and with grit and with style and good humor.  You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And the new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. So you have made me proud. And you have made the country proud. Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women. You are smart and you are beautiful, but more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily.  Of all that I’ve done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.”


Obama’s inspiration

Although the next four years could be hectic, Obama left the nation with inspiration and hope.

“My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you,” Obama said. “I won’t stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days.  But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president — the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.  I’m asking you to believe.  Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.  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.”


Obama’s support from top influencers

Obama has always connected with the top talent and minds in America. Those who hold the most influence on the arts, culture and technology have shown support for Obama. During his farewell address, prominent attendees included Jesse Jackson, Chris Tucker, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Jussie Smollett to name a few.


Obama’s support from America 

Obama’s true support came from the American people. Obama’s campaign for president began on a grassroots level in Chicago. The people who believed in him first were there to congratulate him during his final event as president.

A.R. Shaw
A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

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