Along with tens of millions of people around the world, I found myself tuning in early this morning to watch President Obama's Farewell Address and with that, the emotional rollercoaster began. In the one hour segment brought joy, disbelief, sadness, pride and nostalgia upon me as I watched the President I spent the last 8 years grace my screen say his final goodbye.
I think it's especially a weird transition for me being a millennial, as this was the first presidency I was old enough to comprehend but perhaps what's even more surreal is the fact this man was most probably the first president to understand us.
It can not be denied, Obama's presidency triggered a lot of controversy. Many believe him to have been a great pioneer of social justice and humanitarian agenda whilst others felt the Commander in Chief was immensely flawed in his dealings of both domestic and international affairs. Whatever it is people think of him, it is undeniable that he stood as, and continues to stand as, one of the most influential figures of all time.
As the 44th President spoke about equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness I could not help but feel the past 8 years dawn upon me. I flashed back to the night he was elected. Like so many of my generation, I remember the weird rush of excitement. I remember thinking this guy is kind and decent with integrity and honorable values- wiling to make changes to not only the political infrastructure of America but the moral compass that it possesses. The black son of a working class white single mother, Barack Obama didn't just engage me because of his racial roots, he engaged me because of his transparent relatability to so many in middle America. His persevering efforts to the public sector, his vision of a fairer, safer nation where healthcare was no longer viewed as a luxury dependent on someone's employment status but their simple human right. A president who was humble enough to allow his prejudices to evolve to tolerance and to recognise that mere tolerance was not enough and worked with LGBT campaigns to permit equal marriage under federal law. A man who made it easier for hard working illegal immigrants who contribute to the very ethos that is the American Dream to have their very own access to it.
Barack Obama was not a perfect president but he was the people's president. He was the college debt laced, public service working Black man who not only entered the slave-built White House through the front door but kept it open for others to follow in the steps he paved way for. He is the man who proved to young aspiring kids of the Western world that at the very core of it all hard work, determination and a generous civic moral code can land anyone anywhere and if there are systems in the way that prevent you then you must work to break them down. In his very own words "change only happens when ordinary people get involved and get engaged and come together to demand it".
Discover More CategoriesPolitics