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Obama’s farewell address

Obama’s farewell address
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

History and social studies textbooks will forever note that president Barack Obama was the first African American President of the United States.

He was certainly not a perfect president, but to deny any of the incredible things he has done for this country would be misleading and unreasonable.

Obama has been an advocate for racial, sexual and religious minorities.

It is hard to believe that it has already been eight years of Obama’s presidency because it seems like just yesterday I was watching live coverage of his inauguration on television.

After two terms in office, it is fair to conclude that this nation has had its ups and its downs during the past decade, but president Obama managed to strengthen our country by improving the economy, serving as an advocate for higher education and standing up for immigrants.

President Obama returned to Chicago to deliver his farewell address on Jan. 10. During the speech, Obama reflected on the great achievements of his presidency.

“If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history,” Obama said. “If I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot and take out the mastermind of 9/11. If I had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens — you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did.”

Republicans have pushed back, and at times it seemed rather personal, particularly their refusal to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, after Justice Scalia’s death.

Senate Republicans refused to even hold a hearing, and this course of inaction demonstrates an unwillingness to compromise in a nation whose very democratic principles preach the significance of negotiation and compromise.

Regardless of the challenges and obstacles he faced, president Obama never lost his grace, class or humility.

During a time when Donald Trump’s threats of mass deportation and wall-building ring in our ears, Obama’s farewell address brought the American people back to reality by highlighting the misconceptions we had of immigrants in the past.

“For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians and Poles,” Obama said. “America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.”

His words reflect the historical knowledge, compassion and integrity with which the Obama administration has responded to immigration issues.

Although some like to focus on the flaws of Obama’s presidency, such as the remaining instability in the Middle East, they neglect to give Obama credit for the fact that the U.S. economy is in a much better state than the shattered one he inherited in 2009.

During an NBC special on Jan. 13, president Obama discussed the legacy of his presidency and his hope for the nation’s future.

His important message of optimism and resilience in a time of uncertainty serves as a reassuring message to all.

“We make progress, and then sometimes we take a step back before we start going forward again,” Obama said. “But that’s not a cause for despair. That’s a cause for hope.”

President-elect Trump has some big shoes to fill, and if he is unable to meet the expectations of the American people, then he will not be as fortunate as president Obama was to serve a second term.

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