Obama Tells Activists: ‘This Country Was Founded On Protest’ [Full Video]
Former President Barack Obama went live from his house on Wednesday for the virtual town hall for young people. He gave a hopeful speech for a better future of African American youth and thanked George Floyd protestors for their fight and for “making difference.”
“I hope that you also feel hopeful even as you may feel angry,” he said. “You have communicated a sense of urgency that is as powerful and transformative as anything I have seen in recent years,” Obama said.
At the Zoom video conference, called “Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence,” organized by My Brother’s Keeper Alliance of Obama Foundation, Obama addressed the recent ongoing protests that engulfed all 50 states after the death of Floyd, as well as the high coronavirus death toll in African American communities. He urged the youth to keep up their protests and fight for change, mentioning the American Revolution.
“Just remember, this country was founded on protest. It is called the American Revolution,” Obama said. “And every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals, has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable.”
Obama similarly noted that current protests were more diverse than those in the 1960s.
“You look at those protests, and that was a far more representative cross-section of America out on the streets, peacefully protesting,” he said. “That didn’t exist back in the 1960s, that kind of broad coalition.”
Obama expressed his optimism for the future and said he hoped young people would keep being engaged in the political life of their country and keep educating themselves. He also urged young Americans to take part in their civic duty not only by protesting but by voting, addressing the discourse on “politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action.”
“This is not an ‘either or’ — this is a ‘both and’ — to bring about real change we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable,” said Obama.
Obama’s message comes as a sharp contrast to that of current President Donald Trump, who has called for the presence of active military force in the cities and urges the governors to “dominate the streets” in order to suppress the protesting crowd.
After Obama’s video conference, Trump tweeted:
Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was “Chaos”, which I didn’t like, & changed to “Mad Dog”…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
Nationwide protests started after the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. He pinned Floyd’s neck down by his knee during the arrest. Floyd died shortly after, independent autopsy results confirming the cause of death due to neck and back compression. Chauvin was originally charged with third-degree murder, though, on Wednesday, the charges were upgraded to second-degree murder. Three other officers, present at the murder scene, were arrested on Wednesday.