President Barack Obama went home to Chicago and a friendly crowd to deliver his farewell speech to America, choosing a campaign themed setting.
As the crowd roared with approval, Obama delivered a speech with a teleprompter on either side that was punctuated by distorted sound echoes and crowd reaction.
At one point, some in the crowd appeared to be protesting as supporters tried to drown out the message by shouting “four more years.”
“I can’t do that,” Obama admitted, trying to silence the crowd.
Obama took the stage to his favorite campaign theme song, “City of Blinding Lights” by U2 as the crowd roared with approval, recalling the moment when he first accepted the nomination in front of Greek columns.
This time, however, the president delivered his speech in front of a giant presidential seal, reminding the nation that he was still the president.
The president hinted during his speech that Trump’s election was a setback, describing democracy as “contentious and sometimes bloody.”
“For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back,” he said, describing the progress of the country as “uneven.”
Obama admitted during his speech that the idea of “post racial America” was never realistic, but said that race relations were better than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago—conveniently leaving out the eight years of his presidency.
“After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America,” he said, adding, “Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic.”
Obama said that race continued to be “a potent and often divisive force” in society.
The president also made subtle mentions of the threats faced by America with the rise of Donald Trump.
He praised America for resisting “the lure of fascism and tyranny” during the Great Depression, subtly advising the country to continue doing so after the recession.
He also urged Americans to hold true to the ideals of the Constitution, assuring them that the founding document was “just a piece of parchment” if the people didn’t live according to the values of the founders.
He also urged Americans to reject discrimination against Muslim Americans, prompting the loudest standing ovation from the entire crowd.
Obama also spoke out against social media, accusing Americans of retreating into safe zones instead of working to make the world a better place.
“Increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, true or not, that fits our beliefs.”
Toward the end of his speech, Obama publicly wiped away tears as he spoke about his wife and daughters.
“You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud,” he told Michelle Obama, praising her for taking on “a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own”
Obama praised his daughters for becoming “amazing young women” in the White House under the spotlight, and he thanked Vice President Joe Biden for his service.
He concluded by thanking his supporters, asserting that they were the ones that brought about the change for which he campaigned.
“Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we can,” he said.