Former US President Barack Obama on Wednesday (03.06.20) delivered a heartfelt speech in regards to the death of George Floyd.
Obama’s comments came during a virtual town hall Wednesday evening hosted by My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation.
In the hopeful speech, Obama said that the significant events over the last months, including the protests over the killing of Floyd and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, represent “the kinds of epic changes …in our country that are as profound as anything I have seen in my lifetime.”
Obama cheered the protesters throughout the online event and urged them to keep going. “I know enough about that history to say: There is something different here,” Obama said, referring to the protests of the 1960s. “You look at those protests, and that was a far more representative cross-section of America out on the streets, peacefully protesting, who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they have seen. That didn’t exist back in the 1960s, that kind of broad coalition.”
The former POTUS personally thanked protesters in the streets across the US following the death of George Floyd and urged young African Americans to “feel hopeful even as you may feel angry” because he feels change is coming.
Obama’s remarks Wednesday were not the first time he has spoken on Floyd’s death and the ongoing protests he has used his multiple social media platforms to comment but they do represent the first time the nation’s first black president has addressed Floyd’s death on camera, and they provide an additional influential voice encouraging the protests.
Obama also urged protesters to know that hitting the streets is not enough and urged them to also show up to vote in November.
Obama did not mention President Donald Trump in his remarks, but his message marked a stark contrast with Trump’s focus on cracking down on the protests and message of “law and order.”
Obama didn’t directly criticize anyone during the event, but he closed with a veiled message to those Americans who have criticized or are worried about the protests.
He closed the speech with a direct call to the mostly young people who have recently taken to the streets: “Keep working. And stay hopeful.”