President Obama returned to Chicago to give his farewell address to the nation Tuesday, January 10. In his nearly hour-long speech, the president touted the achievements of his administration — from “taking out” Osama Bin Laden and bailing out the auto industry to passing comprehensive health care legislation and bringing the unemployment rate to a near “10-year low.” He thanked his staff, Vice President Joe Biden, daughters and got especially emotional when thanking his wife First Lady Michelle Obama who received sustained applause.
(Watch President Obama’s farewell address in its entirety courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov below)
The president touched on race and said the idea of America being “post-racial” because of his election was unrealistic: “After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. ” But he also went on to acknowledge the progress made in race relations, citing the attitudes of many young Americans as a reason to be encouraged.
One of the more pointed moments of the president’s speech was when his challenged Americans to come together and move beyond their comfort zones to try to understand different ideologies and perspectives. “For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles,” said President Obama. “Whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.”
He ended his address on a high note calling for Americans 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!”
Visit WhiteHouse.gov for a full transcript of President Obama’s farewell address.