A good story helps us see the world outside of ourselves. It can help us feel a sort of solidarity with each other. And it’s one of our biggest goals with the stories we’re going to tell with Higher Ground. Part of this project is trying to make the world a little bit better for all our children and grandchildren. Because if we can put some better stories out there and make sure were hearing each other, we’re going to see a generation that is more tolerant, more inclusive, and better equipped to take on the challenges we face. Higher Ground’s first film, American Factory, is a complicated story with no easy solutions. But to me, it shows the value in recognizing someone else’s perspective. So take a look at our conversation with the directors, and check out American Factory on Netflix.
It's August, so I wanted to let you know about a few books I've been reading this summer, in case you're looking for some suggestions. To start, you can't go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Sula, everything else — they're transcendent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them. And while I’m at it, here are a few more titles you might want to explore.
Some things change — like my taste in khakis and polo shirts — but Bud Billiken endures. For 90 years, the Bud Billiken parade has brought people together to celebrate the rich history and culture of Chicago’s South Side. I am proud the @ObamaFoundation team is out there representing our next chapter today as we work to bring the Obama Presidential Center to life and empower the next generation of leaders.
Time is no match for Toni Morrison. In her writing, she sometimes toyed with it, warping and creasing it, bending it to her masterful will. In her life’s story, too, she treated time nontraditionally. A child of the Great Migration who’d lifted up new, more diverse voices in American literature as an editor, Toni didn’t publish her first novel until she was 39 years old. From there followed an ascendant career—a Pulitzer, a Nobel, and so much more—and with it, a fusion of the African American story within the American story. Toni Morrison was a national treasure. Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful—a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. And so even as Michelle and I mourn her loss and send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her stories—that our stories—will always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time.
Recent court decisions make it clear that the change we need to restore our democracy has to come from the ground up. @Allontheline ’s work to ensure a fair and accurate census count and achieve fair maps in 2021 has never been more important. Join us today at the link in my bio.
#MandelaDay reminds us that when things feel dark, confusing, or impossible—take a look back at his writings. There, we see how a belief in the dignity of every person can be made real, an unwavering hope to steel us along our own long walks toward something better.
I have a good feeling about these Chicago @UrbanAlliance interns. Thanks for letting me spend time with you—you’re going to go on to do incredible things and make many people proud. In fact, you already have.
Proud to rep America’s best team! Congrats @USWNT and thanks for being such a strong inspiration for women and girls—and everybody—all across the country.
In my farewell address in Chicago three years ago, I said something I still firmly believe today: Being a citizen is the most important job in our democracy. If you’re tired of politicians manipulating electoral maps and ignoring the will of voters, I hope you’ll exercise your power as a citizen by signing @allontheline ’s Citizen Commitment today.
50 years ago, history was written at the Stonewall Inn when New York City’s LGBT community stood up, spoke out, and started a movement. In 2016, I was proud to designate it as our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. Stonewall reminds us the arc of our history is an arc of progress so long as we keep pushing for it.
Happy Father’s Day to Charles, one of our @ObamaFoundation Fellows, and all the dads at Fathers’ Uplift. Today, we’re celebrating fathers like these who provide a powerful example—not only for their kids, but for the rest of us, too.
As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, I'm thinking about all the young troops who faced down impossible odds that day – some of whom I actually got to meet on my own visits to Normandy. I’m also thinking about my grandfather. Though Gramps arrived at Omaha Beach weeks after D-Day, I remember how much I missed him during my visit five years ago – I wanted to have him right there with me, to hear his stories, to share the experience. But I was lucky to spend time with “Rock” Merritt who, as a younger man, saw a recruitment poster asking him if he was man enough to be a paratrooper — and signed up on the spot. All these years later, Rock is best-known not just for his exploits on D-Day, or for his decades in uniform, but for the time he’s spent speaking to the young men and women of today’s Army. Five years ago today, at Omaha Beach – democracy’s beachhead – I spoke about the debt we owe Rock and his fellow veterans who risked and gave their lives in defense of democracy.
On Friday, I had a chance to meet with some inspiring young leaders from around the world who were in Ottawa last week for the Open Government Partnership Global Summit. From Kyrgyzstan to Argentina, we're seeing a new generation taking the reins to empower others and harness new technologies for smarter, better government. It's inspiring—the kind of thing that will create a better world for all of us.
Exciting to see the faces of Colombia's future at an @ObamaFoundation roundtable with young leaders in Bogotá. Their creativity, their compassion, and their drive to improve their country are promising signs of what's to come.
Great to get out there and take a few cuts at the plate yesterday—I had a blast with all these extraordinary young people. Thanks for letting me drop in and thanks to the Nationals Youth Academy for the outstanding work you do to support youth in DC. Video: @natsacademy
I just surprised @MichelleObama with this video message at the final event of her book tour. Happy Mother's Day to the love of my life.
Happy Mother's Day to the most caring, brilliant, funny, and grounded woman I know—a perfect role model not just for our daughters, but so many others. Love you, @MichelleObama
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s easy, on a day like this, to reflect at something of a distance. The photos are grainy now, dusty artifacts from another era. It was a different world then, we can tell ourselves—another place, another time. Fully grappling with the reality of the Holocaust, though, isn’t so simple. Because before the camps and the brownshirts, before the consolidation of political power, before millions of lives were extinguished, there were simply people, not altogether different from any of us, who chose to see their neighbors as different, as other, as something less. It’s a sadly familiar choice, one that we’ve seen generation after generation. And today, in our world of encroaching division and calcifying bubbles, we’ve seen once again the swiftness with which that choice—that failure to recognize ourselves in one another—can accelerate into violence. So it’s up to us to make a different choice—to choose empathy over apathy; to sow seeds of hope rather than hate; to embrace our shared humanity, no matter how we worship, what we look like, who we love, or where our families came from. That’s how we can not only pause to remember a tragedy once a year, but act on the lessons we’ve learned from it every day.
Today, we welcome the next 20 civic leaders as @ObamaFoundation Fellows. In every region of the world, these folks are already leading the way—instilling hope in disadvantaged communities, championing restorative justice, even growing food in the desert. Congratulations to the new class of Fellows. I'm excited to see the connections they'll make—and the lives they'll change. Obama.org/fellowship
One hundred years ago, Nelson Mandela was born, and 25 years ago, his country held its first democratic elections. It was a true honor to mark these anniversaries by sitting with his wife, Graça Machel, to discuss Mandela's legacy of justice, opportunity, and peace—and the call for all of us to carry it on, especially young people like Lesley Williams, one of our @ObamaFoundation African Leaders. As we confront division, discrimination, inequality in our own time—challenges too big for one person and too complex for one simple solution—it's easy to get discouraged. I find that it's best then, as it often is, to remind ourselves of the words of a political prisoner who rose to lead a nation and inspire the world. Because as he said: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Back in 2008, I joined a few staffers for an impromptu Passover Seder on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania — Manischewitz, matzo, and all — and we kept it going during my time in the White House. It was a chance to pause, to connect around a shared meal, and to tell the Exodus story, which reminds us of faith’s triumph over oppression and calls on us to stand with those still yearning for freedom and opportunity today. I hope everyone gathering for a Seder tonight has a blessed and meaningful Passover.
Valerie is one of my oldest friends and a lifelong advisor – she was by my side when I first decided to run for office and for every major moment of the presidency. I’ve always been proud of Valerie and her extraordinary work to advocate for women, improve the lives of working families, and promote equality for all — but more than the policies she helped shape, I am proud of how she did the work. While Valerie was discovering her own sense of belonging, she was out there making sure other women knew they also deserved to be heard. “Finding My Voice” offers a rare look inside the presidency and a window into the life of a public servant who is dedicated to improving the lives of others. @ValerieBJarrett ’s voice has often inspired me and I know her memoir will inspire others to lift their voices, too.
Just in the nick of time: My brackets have never been my one shining moment, but here we go again. You can check out my #MarchMadness picks at Obama.org.
This was back in 2011, when I was visiting the tiny town of Moneygall, the place where my great-great-great grandfather, a shoemaker named Falmouth Kearney, lived his early life. I marveled as I walked around on the same old floorboards that he did, then I had the privilege to address the people of Ireland on College Green. For me, this photo pretty much sums up their joyful spirit; a warmth and generosity that stay with me to this day. Happy St. Patrick's Day—on this day, it’ll always be O’Bama.
Michelle and I send condolences and strength to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and with the Muslim community. Every single one of us, every color, every creed, has a daily responsibility to rally against hate and bigotry in all their forms and to stand up for what is good, and decent, and true.
It’s up to all of us as citizens to make sure that the rules of democracy are fair—everywhere—because the next decade of our nation's progress is on the line. Join me and @allontheline in the fight against gerrymandering. Join the team today: allontheline.org
“As a phrase, ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ continues to keep me focused—especially when I lose hope or get weary. When I repeat it to myself, I’m reminded of all the young people whose lives I might have impacted and those who I have yet to impact. It reinvigorates me, causes me to get up, and reminds me that the work isn’t over yet. I am My Brother’s Keeper. “My hope for all boys and young men of color is peace. I hope for a brighter future where these young men won’t be fearful of applying for a job or chasing an opportunity because of their skin color. Too often I hear my peers talk about how they have to go about things a certain way or there are certain jobs they simply cannot do. “I just want to grow. I want to expand. #MBKRising gives us a chance to come together as a community and have the conversations that can only come from a diversity of perspectives. I am only one person with one set of experiences. There’s a limit to what I know. The only way I’ll be able to grow and learn is to interact with the community of leaders who are working hard to help boys and young men of color like me achieve their dreams. That’s when we all learn.” —Jerron Hawkins, 21, participant at #MBKRising , Washington D.C. (3/3 )