President Obama Calls for Americans to 'Get Involved' in Farewell Address

President Barack Obama on Tuesday delivered an inspiring farewell address to the nation, from the very place he celebrated his historic victory eight years ago.

Speaking from his hometown of Chicago, Ill., Obama reminded the country that “change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together to demand it, calling that principle the “beating heart … of our bold experiment in self-government.” The president also aimed to express his gratitude towards the people who helped him get to where he is today.

Obama took the stage to thunderous applause from the thousands in attendance, beginning his speech shortly after 9/8c.

“My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes that we’ve received over the past few weeks,” the president began. “But tonight, it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we have seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people — in living rooms and in schools, in farms and on factory floors, in diners and on distant military outposts — have kept me honest, kept me inspired and kept me going. Every day, I have learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.”

He continued, “We are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights — among them, life, liberty and the pursuits of happiness. These rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executed. We the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union. What a radical idea, the great gift our founders gave to us. … For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given purpose to each new generation.”

Obama went on to discuss the triumphs of the past eight years: the reversal of a recession, the passing of marriage equality, securing the right to health insurance for 20 million Americans, the reboot of the auto industry, the assassination of Osama bin Laden and the “longest stretch of job creation in our history.”

“That’s what you did,” he told the crowd. “You were the change. Because of you, by almost every measure, America is  a better, stronger place than it was when we started.”

As for Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, Obama said, “I committed to present-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face. We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. … Our potential will only be realized if our democracy works, if our politics better reflects the decency of our people.”

Obama then discussed the remaining threats to our democracy, concluding that “we’re not where we need to be” in terms of treating each other equally, particularly when it comes to race relations: “If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants because they don’t look like us,” he said, “we’re diminishing the potential of our own kids.”

Quoting To Kill a Mockingbird‘s Atticus Finch, he reminded Americans, “You never really understand a person until you consider things form his point of view, until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”

“For all our outward differences, we’re all in this together,” he declared. “We rise and fall as one.”

Obama’s final speech comes just 10 days before president-elect Trump is set to be sworn into office. A pre-inauguration special, America’s First Family: The Trumps Go to Washington, will air Jan. 19 at 10/9c on ABC.

Hit PLAY on Obama’s speech above, then drop a comment with your thoughts below.

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54 Comments
  1. Jj says:

    It was a beautiful speech. I am so grateful I got to experience being an American before the country collapsed into a dumpster of fascism. I pray we ALL survive it somehow.

    • herman1959 says:

      Jj, try to remember what he said at the end – yes we can – don’t withdrawal, get involved in your community and stay involved as a citizen. That’s what I’m going to do.

  2. Angela says:

    Excellent speech. Man, I am so going to miss this guy.
    .
    I loved how emotional he got when talking about his wife and daughters. That was so incredibly sweet and touching.

  3. Drew says:

    What a speech, and if not overturned in the new regime, what a legacy he’ll leave us. I honestly think he will be remembered as one of the best presidents ever for turning around our economy, expanding health care, and always striving to lift us up. I’m going to miss him and his family.

  4. laura588 says:

    It and knowing it was his last speech brought tears to my eyes. Now this is what a president looks like.

  5. Scott says:

    Now go away Obama idiot you’ve tried to destroy are country your incompetent so I say good bye liberal trash . Time to make America great

    • Drew says:

      It’s just so gratifying to know how you are taking to heart Obama’s graceful message about the need for unity. You clearly love this country. Oh wait, you supported Putin’s puppet, so I retract that. Treason much?

    • Chris says:

      Yeah, you seem to have missed that we need to unify and love each other, even if we disagree. We are all in this together.. stop with the negativity

      • Jason says:

        Oh yes, because the liberals are showing so much love on their side. I’ve never seen such a display of outright hate and intolerance ever since Trump was elected.

        • Chris says:

          I’m not talking about politicians. I’m actually a conservative. I’m talking about us all doing our part and not being petty. Apparently, that’s too much to ask

        • Angela says:

          Probably because it’s hard to show respect for a guy who can’t seem to treat others with respect, and who throws tantrums at the slightest criticism that’s directed towards him-or not even at him at all. Remember the Hamilton thing? The cast’s message was to Pence directly, and yet Trump felt he had to get involved and complain anyway. Pence, meanwhile, handled that with significantly more grace and maturity (and this is coming from somebody who disagrees with virtually everything Pence stands for politically).
          .
          How on earth is he going to handle being president if he can’t go a day without complaining about somebody being mean to him on Twitter?

        • T.M. says:

          Welp, cause when someone acts a fool.. one must call them on such. Trump has been nothing but a blight on our legacy ever since ignorant america voted him in. I have been a Republican longer than he has. I am embarrassed by how many of our Republican party have been falling over themselves for his game. We are better than this. This is embarrassing for us Republicans and any human. Trump is Trash. He represents none of our values. He only represents himself. He doesn’t pay us working class. He stiffs us the bill. Pay attention. FFS

        • Whatevah says:

          Hate breeds hate.

    • Josh says:

      Is he responsible for your inability to spell?

    • Lisa says:

      Scott,
      I shall begin by assuming that you are from the United States of America as otherwise you surely have no reason to talk this way. Now if you are indeed from the country that you want to ‘make great again’, it is reasonable to assume that your first language is English. It isn’t mine, yet I can clearly see 2 spelling mistakes and an obvious lack of proper syntax in what you wrote. You wrote two sentences. Two insulting, unnecessary and untrue sentences, which were enough to show us all that you are either uneducated or just stupid. Now I don’t want to assume the latter so I’ll make it my understanding that you are uneducated. That it isn’t malice of idiocy that made you think what you just wrote but a lack of access to the ressources and infrastructure necessary for you to be able to collect enough information to construct your own opinion and be able to share it in an eloquent and polite manner.
      Which is why I pity you Scott, like I pity the vast majority of people who voted for Donald Trump. How miserable and small your life must be that your mind is so easily indoctrinated. That you are willing to believe and repeat verbatim everything you’ve been told no matter how heinous or narrow-minded. You know what though Scott? It isn’t your fault, like so many others, society has failed you.
      I truly hope that this election will be a wake up call for your country. While those who voted for Hillary should now fight for their values in life, they should also fight for you to find your own. Because Scott, it is completely fine to dislike Barack Obama, you just need to find your own words to express it. Don’t just repeat what you’ve heard, you clearly have access to the internet, use it to research your country. You want to make America great again? Make a plan to make it better. Make a plan to make you better. For this I ask you to please start with decency, respect and politeness. It truly seems necessary.
      Wishing you, and every other citizen of your beautiful country, the best.
      Sincerely,
      Lisa

  6. Lily says:

    I don’t think we’ll ever have another president who was so fundamentally a good and decent human being. We’re going from the personification of grace, honor and dignity to the worst white person in America.

    • Scott says:

      Obama was an incompetent idioit

      • Elf says:

        Scott, does anybody actually take you seriously?

      • Mindy says:

        And completely delusional! I hope and pray Obama gets the medical attention he spectacularly needs. His mental health is clearly deteriorating at a rapid speed. With all the incorrect information (some may call them outright lies. But, I want to give him some credit, as he is a president. That it must be a mental breakdown. Some kind of schizophrenia and delusions) I sincerely will be praying for his mental health.

        • T.M. says:

          You mean 99% of what Trump says. I’m a Republican and I’ve heard crazy people at Central Park speak with more clarity than Trump ever has. He has conned us.

        • Elf says:

          Once again, nothing but accusations and no actual detail. They cry and scream about how much Obama lies and is hurting America but they never seem to be able to provide any detail. And that’s because they only believe in opinions and not facts. Once you introduce facts into the argument they turn tail and run.

        • Angela says:

          This post is so out there I don’t even know where to begin.

          • Mary says:

            You can’t respond to ignorance. It is apparent that some are easily sway and cannot make a solid argument to support their non truths. I guess that is why we have leaders and followers we know which group this one is in.

      • Penny Can says:

        Actually, he’s something far worse. An idiot can’t help being an idiot [W]. This guy [O] is/was insidious.

      • Brigid says:

        Tee hee, you spelled idiot wrong in your rush to get that out as quick as possible.

  7. Jason says:

    Good riddance! As a gay man and a republican who refuses to follow the liberal masses or what’s dictated by my so-called community I’m thrilled to see this man and who I consider the worst president in the history of our country take his final bow.

    • Chris says:

      As a fellow republican, the worst? Really? I may not have agreed with some of the things he has done, but he loves America and loves democracy. And you think things will be better under Trump?

    • Katrinka says:

      I think you need to take a US history lesson if that’s your conclusion.

    • Steven says:

      As a gay man why do we care that you’re a gay man?

    • Elf says:

      Ever notice how those who say Obama was so bad never provide any actual details as to why they think he was so horrible? I can only assume they know they’ll lose any argument because they only care about opinions, not facts.

      • Scott says:

        You want details . Ok first you have Obama care a big screw up most doctors won’t take it and the price is going up . Ever time there was a police shooting instead of waiting for facts he open his dumb mouth and end up being wrong . His foreign polices did nothomg but make the world less safe . No matter what he touch he screwed up .

        • Bill says:

          Let’s not forget he released 4 terrorists for Bowe Bergdahl.

        • Mary says:

          Maybe it is the State you live in, because I have had no problem whatsoever in keeping my Doctor. Maybe you should do a little research and find out the real reason you weren’t able to keep your doctor. Sorry he wasn’t wrong on many of the shootings but and people who refuse to acknowledge a problem is part of the problem not the solution.
          The world hasn’t been the same since 911 and guess what that won’t change. A little knowledge goes a long way.

      • Hi Elf,

        -Racial tensions have never been higher (due to groups like BLM and Obama’s support of these groups),
        -More police officers are being killed – many of which are being ambushed due to BLM and Obama’s lack of support for police officers. (Murder rates in Chicago are the highest they have been in years.)
        -He lifted 50 year old sanctions on Cuba, which is still a communist country with a horrible human rights record for no reason.
        -He and his administration, which included Hilary as Sec. of State at the time, created ISIS by killing Kadafi and then not putting any form of government in place there so it left a vacancy, which Islamist Militants then filled and became ISIS.
        -His foreign policy and stance on terrorism has allowed ISiS to expand to over 130 countries resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people across the globe (E.G. Syria), including Western countries like the UK and US.
        -Major domestic terrorist attack of the last few years include Boston Marathon Bombing, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando & San Bernardino,CA. All 3 of these were done by Radical Muslims.
        -In 2013, made his infamous “Red Line” ultimatum to Syria in regards to their use of chemical weapons and ultimately reduced our negotiating power with the world as we now looked weak and like we wouldn’t follow through on our threats/promises.
        -Now, he has already brought roughly 10K Syrians that were displaced from Syria in large part due to the spread of ISIS here so US taxpayers can pay for their living expenses, insurance expenses, etc. He & Hilary planned to bring another 55K here in 2017, but hopefully that will change now. Most of these people could not be properly vetted according to our director of Homeland Security, but we are letting them in anyways.
        -The Iran nuclear deal gave Iran roughly $150 billion dollars, which they can now use to fund terrorist activities/build weapons.
        -He violated American laws and precedent by paying Iran CASH for apparent hostages.
        -He approved of the trading of 5 high-ranking militant Iranians, 2 of which were involved in killing not only Americans, but 1,000’s of Shiites for Bowe Bergdahl, who is now on trial for desertion.
        -Our relationship with Israel is the worst it’s ever been.
        -Obamacare is just a Ponzi scheme of moving (taxpayer) money around to pay for health insurance for other people. Here in MN, individual insurance could only be canceled for non-payment and pre-existing conditions were only not covered if the person didn’t have insurance for 18 months prior to enrolling. This was a cost prevention tool so that people couldn’t go without insurance for years and then enroll and immediately have procedures covered (like say $50K knee replacement). We already had free health insurance for individuals with no or little income. Thus, Obamacare just resulted in a $100 million dollar + shuffling of our programs and creation of MNSure for no reason. Major reform needs to be done at the state level.

        If you chose to respond to any of this, please don’t revert to attacking Bush or Trump as everything listed above was all Obama. Yes, other Presidents have their faults, but we are discussing Obama right now.

        Hey, at least he gives a good speech!

      • -Racial tensions have never been higher (due to groups like BLM and Obama’s support of these groups),
        -More police officers are being killed – many of which are being ambushed due to BLM and Obama’s lack of support for police officers. (Murder rates in Chicago are the highest they have been in years.)
        -He lifted 50 year old sanctions on Cuba, which is still a communist country with a horrible human rights record for no reason.
        -He and his administration, which included Hilary as Sec. of State at the time, created ISIS by killing Kadafi and then not putting any form of government in place there so it left a vacancy, which Islamist Militants then filled and became ISIS.
        -His foreign policy and stance on terrorism has allowed ISiS to expand to over 130 countries resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people across the globe (E.G. Syria), including Western countries like the UK and US.
        -Major domestic terrorist attack of the last few years include Boston Marathon Bombing, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando & San Bernardino,CA. All 3 of these were done by Radical Muslims.
        -In 2013, made his infamous “Red Line” ultimatum to Syria in regards to their use of chemical weapons and ultimately reduced our negotiating power with the world as we now looked weak and like we wouldn’t follow through on our threats/promises.
        -Moving Syrians here for us to pay for bc they were displaced by ISIS in Syria, which he helped create and didn’t stop the spread of.
        -The Iran nuclear deal gave Iran roughly $150 billion dollars, which they can now use to fund terrorist activities/build weapons.
        -He violated American laws and precedent by paying Iran CASH for apparent hostages.
        -He approved of the trading of 5 high-ranking militant Iranians, 2 of which were involved in killing not only Americans, but 1,000’s of Shiites for Bowe Bergdahl, who is now on trial for desertion.
        -Our relationship with Israel is the worst it’s ever been.
        -Obamacare.

        • :-) says:

          I was trying to hold to the president’s call to not argue with people on the internet but I would just like to say that everything you said is a lie. Have you ever gone to a black lives matter website and read any of their literature? The iran payment was from things left over from the Reagan Era. The Boston Marathon were committed by Russian radicals the Pulse Nightclub shooting was committed by someone confused by his sexuality. And I noticed you left out all of the mass shootings that were domestic terrorism committed by white people. And is it not just possible racial tensions are at their highest because there are a lot of people in this country who still could not accept the fact that we had a black president and other people took advantage of that fact and built up racial tensions to ensure that they did political control. When we stop this black white hispanic Asian blame and denigration game & start to treat each other with love respect and caring and focus on holding our government and these corporations accountable we will get back our middle class and improve country. We can’t do that if people aren’t willing to base things on fact and not their personal opinions. People have to research and not just read the headlines or things that only come in 140 characters

          • Angela says:

            Also, for anyone complaining about the aspects of Obamacare that are an issue, they’re blaming the wrong person. The Republicans refused to support any sort of proper universal health care system, and watered Obamacare down so much because it was the only way they’d even consider letting it pass. And even then, Republican governors still fought against implementing it in the states they ran. In my state, Iowa, my Republican governor decided it’d be a great idea to privatize the Medicaid/Medicare system last year. Shocker of shockers, he’s got a big ol’ mess on his hands now and a lot of residents angry at him for this boneheaded choice.
            .
            So if you want to gripe about the less than ideal aspects of Obamacare, you need to go yell at the Republicans. If we had a party that was more mature, a party that would actually be willing to work with Obama instead of say “No” to virtually everything he wanted to pass, we probably would have a much better system.
            .
            And the bottom line is, even with all its faults, Obamacare still managed to give many, many people health insurance that they didn’t have before. That is a positive thing. And if and when Trump and the Republicans repeal Obamacare, that is going to hurt them in the long run, especially since the likelihood of them coming up with a viable alternative is slim to none.

          • Lucifer says:

            “I would just like to say that everything you said is a lie.”

    • Mindy says:

      Completely agree.

    • Walkie says:

      Since you seem so educated on the subject, tell me what in this country is worse than it was when he took over 8 years ago? I’ll wait. . . .

      • Penny Can says:

        Racial tension, the huge divide between ethnicities, adding to the national debt more than all previous presidents COMBINED, a depleted military, millions more undocumented aliens, unprecedented numbers of prisoners given early release, a world perception of a weakened America, low GDP, strained relations with Israel our only true ally in the middle east, record numbers of police being killed on duty and crime in inner cities off the charts for starters.

        • :-) says:

          Undocumented workers are down actually. GDP is higher than when he took office. he has actually lowered the debt. our world perception is better by all measurable manners. most people agree that prison reform is necessary and the prisoners he has released and it’s very little recidivism. the racial tension probably has something to do with a black man being elected more than anything else he did. there’s also lots of racial tension in Britain I guess that’s Obama’s fault too. it could be that people are just using race to divide people and keep us from doing the work to secure our country. All of this is easily available on Google through reputable news and educational institutions.

  8. Et al says:

    We are going from this wonderful, classy, president to a president who hires Russian hookers to pee on him. Disgusting.

    • Mary says:

      I think we know what his favorite letter of the alphabet – P. Don’t know if it is true or not but the irony is not lost on me. The man responsible of keeping the birther movement alive is now claiming it is not true. Karma is a bi..h.

  9. Walkie says:

    He turned out to be one amazing President. It’s become even more evident now that we are stuck with the Orange Monstrosity.

  10. Mary says:

    This my friends is how a President should represent himself. Going to miss this man of integrity and character.

  11. Mr. Smith says:

    Trump took Obama’s plea to “get involved” to heart: He ran for President and won.

  12. Whatevah says:

    I am going to miss Obama so much. History will be very kind to him. Kinder than Republicans have been.

  13. sunshine says:

    People got together and decimated the Democrats nationwide, over l,000 kicked out of office. Don’t think we need advice about getting involved now.