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Barack Obama Says Young People's Activism Is Giving Him Hope

Jess Hardiman

| Last updated 

Barack Obama Says Young People's Activism Is Giving Him Hope

Featured Image Credit: PA

Former US president Barack Obama has given a moving speech addressing George Floyd's death and the global protests that have followed, saying during the live stream that the response from young people has helped give him hope.


In the virtual town hall meeting on police violence - which was put together by an Obama Foundation organisation called My Brother's Keeper Alliance, which supports boys and young men of colour - Obama paid tribute to the Black lives lost through acts of racism and police brutality, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and Sean Reed.

George Floyd. Credit: Floyd Family
George Floyd. Credit: Floyd Family

His 15-minute address also began by acknowledging that the recent protests and campaigning that have spun out of such injustice, saying: "Let me start by just acknowledging that we have seen in the last several weeks, last few months, the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I've seen in my lifetime.

"And I'm now a lot older... I'm going to be 59 soon."

Obama, who served as president between 2009 and 2017, continued: "And part of what's made me so hopeful is the fact that so many young people have been galvanised and activated and motivated and mobilised. Because historically, so much of the progress that we've made in our society has been because of young people.

Protestors in New York. Credit: PA
Protestors in New York. Credit: PA

"Dr. King was a young man when he got involved, César Chávez was a young man, Malcolm X was a young man.

"That the leaders of the feminist movement were young people. Leaders of union movements were young people. The leaders of the environmental movement in this country and the movement to make sure that the LGBT community finally had a voice and was represented were young people.

Protest posters outside the US Consulate General office in Edinburgh. Credit: PA
Protest posters outside the US Consulate General office in Edinburgh. Credit: PA

"And so when I sometimes I feel despair, I just see what's happening with young people all across the country 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."

Telling protestors he is 'proud' of their ongoing work to highlight and change racial issues, Obama added that he wanted people to also feel hopeful 'even as you may feel angry', saying they have the power to 'make things better'.

Credit: Barack Obama
Credit: Barack Obama

He concluded: "There is a change in mindset that's taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better. That is not as a consequence of speeches by politicians. That's not the result of spotlights in news articles.

"That's a direct result of the activities and organising and mobilisation and engagement of so many young people across the country who put themselves out on the line to make a difference.

"And so I just had to say, thank you to them for helping to bring about this moment and just make sure that we now follow through, because at some point, attention moves away.

"At some point, protests start to dwindle in size. And it's very important for us to take the momentum that has been created as a society, as a country and say, let's use this to finally have an impact."

Topics: World News, News, George Floyd, US News, Barack Obama

Jess Hardiman
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