President Barack Obama delivers his farewell speech to the nation on January 10, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Latest News

President Obama Says Farewell

In his final speech, the outgoing president thanked Americans and urged all citizens to keep pushing for a better world.

    With 10 days left in his term, President Barack Obama delivered his final address to the nation on Tuesday night. He described ways the country is stronger now than when he took office eight years ago. He also urged Americans to continue working together and to reach out to each other to strengthen our nation.

“WE, THE PEOPLE”

    President Obama delivered his farewell address in Chicago, where he began his career in politics as a community organizer. A cheering crowd of more than 20,000 people at McCormick Place, a large convention center, welcomed him. He began by thanking the American people. “Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man,” Obama said.

    He then discussed his belief in American democracy, calling it “our bold experiment in self-government.” He went on to remind people of the notion made famous in the Declaration of Independence: That we are all created equal. Obama said that by working together, we can make the country even greater. “This is the great gift our Founders gave us,” he said.

    The president also named some of his proudest achievements from his eight years in the White House. He described how the economy is stronger now than it was when he first took office. “The unemployment rate is near a 10-year-low,” he said. He mentioned positive negotiations with other countries to avoid war. He touted the Affordable Care Act, which helped 20 million more Americans get health insurance so they could afford better health care. 

Zoom In
Fullscreen

President Obama at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House

CREDIT: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

MORE WORK TO BE DONE

    Obama emphasized that making democracy better is a never-ending task. He urged all Americans to work for a fairer future for everyone. “That’s what our democracy demands. It needs you,” Obama said.

    He then spoke about some of the racial divides in our country. He said that while people of all races are more united than they have been in the past, we all have more work to do. After calling on the government to uphold laws against discrimination, he then turned to the American people to be more understanding of each other. “We have to try harder; to start with the premise [idea] that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do.”

    Obama also warned against the danger of listening only to sources that support what we already believe. He said that it divides the country when “we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.” He continued, saying, “Politics is a battle of ideas. . . . But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede [admit] that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.”

    He finished by asking the country—especially young Americans—to have faith in the future. “I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days,” Obama said. “But for now . . . I do have one final ask of you as your president . . . I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.”

Zoom In
Fullscreen

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia (L) and Sasha (R) pose for a family portrait with their pets Bo and Sunny in the Rose Garden of the White House on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.

CREDIT: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

POST-PRESIDENCY PLANS

    The first family will remain in Washington, D.C., after the president leaves office on January 20. He and First Lady Michelle Obama plan to stay in the nation’s capital until their 15-year-old daughter, Sasha, finishes high school. Malia, 18, will attend Harvard University this fall.

    President Obama says he will be writing a book about his time as president. He will also work on the development of his presidential library and museum. It is scheduled to open in Chicago in 2021.