He may not be sitting in the Oval Office any longer, but he continues to lead the nation through difficult time and share powerful messages of hope. In fact, on Wednesday, President Barack Obama spoke directly to young Black people as #BlackLivesMatter protests continue across the country.
On Wednesday, Obama sat down for a virtual town hall for the Obama Foundation's organization My Brother's Keeper to discuss the protests that have broken out in all 50 states after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Frustrated and exhausted with pervasive, systemic racism and police brutality, millions of people have taken to the streets to protest. In his address, Obama said he understands the anger. "Although all of us have been experiencing pain, uncertainty, disruption," he said, "some folks have been feeling it more than others."
Obama went on to share a message directed specifically at "the young men and women of color in this country who have witnessed too much violence and too much death, and too often some of that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving and protecting you."
"You matter," he said. "I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter."
On a more personal note, Obama spoke about his two daughters, 21-year-old Malia and 18-year-old Sasha. "I go home and look at the faces of my daughters, Sasha and Malia, and I look at my nephews and nieces, I see limitless potential that deserves to flourish and thrive... Without having to worry about what is going to happen when you walk to the store or go for a jog or are driving down the street or are looking at some birds in a park," Obama said, referring to the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and the racist incident in Central Park with Christian Cooper.
Obama went on to say that he believed that young people have already proven they have the power to "make the entire country feel as if this is something that has got to change." "When sometimes I feel despair, I just see what's happening with young people all across the country," he said. "And the talent and the voice and the sophistication that they're displaying and it makes me feel optimistic. It makes me feel as if this country is going to get better."
This isn't the first time this week Obama has spoken about how he's been inspired by young people who are protesting in America right now. "I know the past few months have been hard and dispiriting," he wrote on Twitter earlier this week. "But watching the heightened activism of young people makes me hopeful. And if we can keep channeling our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, this can be the moment when real change starts."