President Barack Obama gave the final speech of his presidency on Tuesday night and he used this opportunity to give what may very well be his most powerful statement on race yet.
The president said that when he was elected, “there was talk of a post-racial America.” Unfortunately, as Obama acknowledged, “this was not realistic.”
“Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society,” Obama said. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress.
Now I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say. You can see it not just in statistics, you see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be and all of us have more work to do.
Obama explained that the “us versus them” mentality hurts all Americans. He then quoted Atticus Finch, the leading character in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird:
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
Both sides, the president explained, must take a step back and really try to look at the other point of view no matter how hard that is to do. It is the only way we can move forward.
You can watch this moving portion of President Obama’s poignant farewell speech, here:
Featured image via screen capture