Former President Barack Obama delivered a motivational speech to his staff and supporters shortly after handing over the reins of power to his newly sworn-in successor, President Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States.
“I said before, and I will say again,” Obama said, “that when we started on this journey, we did so with an abiding faith in the American people and their ability — our ability — to join together and change the country in ways that would make life better for our kids and our grandkids, that change didn’t happen from the top down, but it happened from the bottom up.”
Obama delivered his remarks from the Joint Base Andrews before flying to Palm Springs, Calif., with former first lady Michelle Obama, for the couple’s post-White House vacation.
“It was met sometimes with skepticism and doubt,” he added. “Some folks didn’t think we could pull it off. There were those that felt that the institutions of power and privilege in this country were too deeply entrenched. And yet all of you came together … and you decided to believe. And you knocked on doors and you made phone calls. And you talked to your parents, who didn’t know how to pronounce ‘Barack Obama.’ And you got to know each other. … And it grew, and it built. And people took notice. And throughout, it was infused with a sense of hope.”
Former President Barack Obama waves with his wife, Michelle, as they board Special Air Mission 28000,a Boeing 747 that serves as Air Force One, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Jan. 20, 2017.(Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
Obama said he and his wife were simply the “front men and women” for the millions of people who believed in their vision for the country. “But this has never been about us,” he countered, “it has always been about you. And all of the amazing things that have happened over these last 10 years are really just a testament to you.”
His remarks stood in contrast to Trump’s inaugural address, which was at times uplifting but also cast the country in a state of disrepair. Obama further heaped praise on America’s youth and argued that U.S. democracy “is not the buildings, it’s not the monuments,” it’s the people being willing to work to improve the country.
“And that doesn’t end. This is just a little pit stop. This is not a period, this is a comma in the continuing story of building America, we look forward to continuing this journey with all of you,” Obama concluded. “And I can’t wait to see what you do next. And I promise that I’ll be right there with you. All right? God bless you. Thank you everybody. Yes we did. Yes we can.”