This week, I’m thinking a lot about…
Yep, you guessed it. President Barack Obama. This guy was much more than just the 44th POTUS. He was, and will forever continue to be, an incredible teacher, guide, and inspiration.
Dreams. A few years ago, I read his powerful autobiography Dreams From My Father. It was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down and I still hearken back to it from time to time. President Obama and I had drastically different childhood experiences; and yet, I felt so close to him throughout the entire book. On the outside, we’re both biracial, with Black fathers and White mothers. But it was his caring personality, his glowing smile, thick-skin, true vision, and thirst for knowledge that drew me even closer to his story.
Accomplished. I could spout facts about President Obama’s policy accomplishments for hours: rescuing the US from the Great Recession, significantly lowering the unemployment rate, saving the auto industry, completing the Iran Deal, providing healthcare to millions of people who didn’t have it, reigning in Wall Street, drawing to a close two wars, opening relations with Cuba, signing the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, and so much more, all while facing incredible odds. If you haven’t read My President Was Black by Ta-Nehisi Coates, read it right now. Here’s one of my favorite quotes: “But if the president’s inability to cement his legacy in the form of Hillary Clinton proved the limits of his optimism, it also revealed the exceptional nature of his presidential victories. For eight years Barack Obama walked on ice and never fell.”
Disappointment. Amidst the devastation in the United States since November 8th, I’ve wondered how President Obama must be feeling. Sure, he puts on a brave face to the media and even had to welcome Donal Trump into the Oval Office. But inside, he must be so…disappointed. Eight years after his historic election, President Obama will go down as one of the most consequential presidents in history. And now his legacy stands to be tarnished by a racist and misogynistic real-estate agent turned offensive, bully politician. And remember Luther, Obama’s anger translator? Well, he’s not handling leaving office too well.
Orator. We all know that President Obama can speak. Like, really well. From the time he bravely took the stage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention when he was just a state senator from Illinois, President Obama has wowed the world with his speeches. One of my professors at KU put together a list of his greatest hits. Just like the West Wing, I’m going to rely on these speeches a lot over the next four years.
Legacy. As President Obama reminded us in his farewell address in Chicago, “we all share the same proud title: citizen”. Each and every one of us have more work to do, more hearts and minds to inspire, and more love to spread to make this world a better place. Thank you, President Obama. Thank you for showing us your vision and hope for a better country and world. Thank you for exuding grace, empathy, love, and courage. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and inspiring family with all of us. Thank you for being you. And even though you’re leaving office, I’m still fired up and ready to go. And I always will be.
P.S. The video below is Lin-Manuel Miranda and Christopher Jackson singing “One Last Time” from Hamilton at the White House. So many tears.