President Barack Obama wipes away tears during his presidential farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago on 10 January 2017. (Photo: AP)
| 7 min read

Obama’s Powerful Farewell Message: “Show up, Dive in, Stay at it”

Obama Out

(Photo Courtesy: Giphy)
(Photo Courtesy: Giphy)
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  • US President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
  • During the address, Obama urged the people of the US to get involved with the democratic process
  • He thanked his wife, Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, as well as Joe Biden and the rest of his staff.
  • Obama emphasized on the need to look beyond differences and work together for the democracy.
  • Stark inequality is corrosive to the nation’s democracy, he said.
  • He stressed that he rejects discrimination against Muslim Americans. He received a standing ovation when he said they are “just as patriotic as we are.”
  • Quoting Atticus Finch, he said it helps to “climb into his skin and walk around in it” to understand a person.
  • His statement that USA would witness the peaceful transfer of power to a new president in 10 days drew jeers.

Live Updates

January 11, 2017, 3:55 am
January 11, 2017, 2:38 am

To Michelle, His Daughters, and Joe Biden

Not just because you have been a great Vice-President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother.
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Obama says that of all that he’s done in his life, he’s most proud to be Malia and Sasha’s dad.

Speaking to his wife Michelle, Obama says that she has been not only his wife for the past 25 years and the mother of his children, but also his best friend.

He calls her a role model and says a new generation sets its sights higher because of her.

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On Responsibility and Inclusion

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If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking to some of them in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organising. If you’re disappointed in your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. 
January 11, 2017, 2:44 am
For all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same title – the most important office in a democracy – citizen.
January 11, 2017, 2:43 am
January 11, 2017, 2:41 am

President Barack Obama says in his farewell address that protecting the nation's way of life is the job of citizens as well as the military.

"Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear," he says.

In a reference to President-elect Donald Trump's campaign calls for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, Obama says he rejects discrimination against Muslim Americans. He receives a standing ovation as he says they are “just as patriotic as we are”.

The outgoing president says the US can't withdraw from global fights to expand democracy, human rights and the rights of women, gays and lesbians.

January 11, 2017, 3:55 am
January 11, 2017, 2:40 am
America is no fragile thing, but the gains of our long journey of freedom are not assured.
Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. 
January 11, 2017, 2:40 am
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On Inequality and Race

President Barack Obama acknowledges that “stark inequality” is corrosive to the nation's democratic principles, a nod to the economic uncertainty that helped Republican Donald Trump win the White House last November.

Obama says that too many families in inner cities and rural counties have been left behind. He says many are convinced that the "game is fixed against them" and government only serves powerful interests. This, he says, is a “recipe for more cynicism and polarisation in our politics”.

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We must invest in children of immigrants, because those brown kids represent a growing share of the workforce.

Obama says that he has lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, 20 or even 30 years ago, no matter what people say, but it still remains a potent and often divisive force in American society.

Obama says hearts must change. He quotes the hero of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Atticus Finch, who said that to understand a person, it helps to “climb into his skin and walk around in it”.

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On Donald Trump and Democracy

In the aftermath of Republican Donald Trump's election as the next president, Obama acknowledges that the nation's progress has been "uneven." He says that for "every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back."

He says the USA strives for "forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some."

Democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity; that we rise and fall as one.

The crowd begins to boo as Obama mentions that America will soon see the peaceful transition of power, which is the hallmark of democracy, to Republican President-elect Donald Trump.

Everyday, I have learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.
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US President Barack Obama Takes the Stage

US President Barack Obama begins his farewell speech by asking a cheering crowd to settle down so he can begin. “You can tell I’m a lame duck President, because nobody is listening to me,” he says.

As he talks about his time in the White House, the crowd begins to chant, “four more years!” Obama replies, “I can’t do that.”

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What to Expect From Obama's Farewell Speech

US President Barack Obama will deliver his farewell speech on Tuesday night, looking back at his legacy as he encourages supporters demoralised by the election of Republican Donald Trump to feel optimistic about the future of the country.

The Democratic president is feeling some nostalgia as he prepares to leave the White House on 20 January after eight years in office. His top policy achievements were jolted by the 8 November election of Trump, who has threatened to undo Obama's actions on issues ranging from advancing healthcare reform to curbing climate change.

In his speech at McCormick Place, Chicago's main convention center, Obama will talk about how his experience in the city – at the start of his political career – taught him that change happens from the grassroots.

“I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life,” Obama was set to say, according to excerpts released by the White House.

It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.

First lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, and many current and former White House staff members and campaign workers were expected to attend the speech.

"The president is not one to be overly sentimental, but given the circumstances, I think it would be unrealistic to expect anybody to not feel some nostalgia for this moment," his spokesman, Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with Obama.

Even the final trip on the presidential aircraft was a moment tinged with wistfulness. It was Obama's 445th trip on the presidential aircraft, a perk he has said he will miss when he leaves office. All told, he will have spent more than 2,800 hours or 116 days on the plane during his presidency, Earnest said.

Obama has said he plans to reflect on his administration's achievements in his address, encouraging supporters to keep fighting for issues like the environment, gay rights and economic equality.

Obama plans to remain in Washington for the next two years while his younger daughter, Sasha, finishes high school. He has indicated he wants to give Trump the same space that his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, gave Obama after leaving office by not maintaining a high public profile.

(With inputs from Reuters and AP)

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