United States President Barack Obama gave his goodbye speech at Chicago today at 3.am Nigerian Time. This is his final speech as President of the United States. While the handover ceremony to Donald Trump is set till noon on the 20th day of January 2017; Obama took today to address the Country for the last time officially.
Chicago holds a lot of significance for him as it is adoptive Hometown and where it all began. It is no surprise that he chose this place given that it is a place he is very much accepted.
Before today, he had published a note enjoining Americans to join him one more time to do his duty as President of the United States. He goes on to say that farewell is also a way of saying thank you for eight years. He also hinted that he would offer his thoughts on how America would move forward.
It was an emotional night for Chicago as the crowd chanted “four more years, four more years” while President Barack Obama ascended the stage. His attempts at quieting the crowd proved almost impossible and not being one to miss a beat, Obama quipped-
“You can tell I’m a lame duck, because no one is following my instructions”
However, in about an hour long speech he went on to thank Americans and cautioned them against anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-gay, pro-Russian and pro-rich sentiments. These are essentially his successor’s campaign. Obama preached inclusiveness and equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual identity. The significance of his speech isn’t obscure. It is a way of preparing Americans as they enter into a Trump presidency. It is no secret that Trump has publicly mocked the disabled, immigrants, women and the poor. It was a very emotional one hour for Americans who are sad to see the Barack Obama presidency go. For most of his speech and as always, Obama was visibly calm – he made jokes and spoke clearly but gave way to tears when he recognised Michelle, his daughters and Joe Biden, his right hand man.
Find below a few points from his speech-
“I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.”
“For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.”
“I committed to president-elect Trump that my team would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as president Bush did to me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can meet the many challenges we still face”
“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organising. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”
To his staff Barack Obama said-
“For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism… The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here. ”
To Michelle he said amidst cheers from the crowd-
“Girl of the South Side, for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but 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,” while wiping away tears with a pristine handkerchief.
To Malia and Sasha Obama he says,
“You have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad,”
To Joe Biden,
“the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favourite son: you were the first decision I made as a nominee and the best, not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother”
And to everyone else Barack Obama said-
“My fellow Americans, it has been the honour of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or 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 am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
It was really emotional watching this. Obama has always been a great spokesman and his years on seat has not diminished his touch. We hope there is a smooth transition and he and his family live out their lives in peace.
You can find a full text of Barack Obama’s final speech as President on ndtv.com