Former President Obama makes first public appearance in Chicago

by Connie Macatula – De Leon, ABS-CBN News


“Worry less about what you want to be, and worry more about what you want to do.”

It was former President Barack Obama’s first public appearance since he left the White House almost 100 days ago. The Q&A session was held at the University of Chicago, in the city where former President Barack Obama’s political career first started.

By-invitation-only tickets were given to 300 students from different universities in Chicago.

The 80-minute discussion on Monday focused on the youth, and how to get the next generations more involved in civic life.

“People just aren’t involved. They get cynical and they give up. And as a consequence, we have some of the lowest voting rates of any advanced democracy, and low participation rates then translate into a further gap between who’s governing us and what we believe,” said Obama. “The only folks who are going to be able to solve that problem are going to be the next generation.”

22-year old Natalie Baltazar, a college student in Chicago, says she could not agree more.

“I do believe that it is important that the youth is part of society because we want the best for our future kids; in order for them to have great opportunities,” Baltazar said. “By doing what we can to improve this country, it will result in the country being more successful and stronger for many more generations to come.”

“I would like to see youth become more involved and active in this fight for intersectional and transformative change. I urge everyone to step up if they have the capacity; to stay vigilant and strong throughout this process, and to know that their voice matters,” said Naomi Salcedo, a recent graduate from University of Chicago.

Since the end of his second term, Obama has remained low-profile. He didn’t address many negative criticisms of the current administration against his term, specifically on healthcare and environment. Nor did he mention {resident Trump’s name.

But the former president also did dish out some life lessons for the youth.

“First of all with respect to failure, it’s terrible…but necessary. If you are going to try something hard, if you’re putting yourself out there in some way, there are going to be times where you screw up or you don’t succeed,” he said.

Obama also spoke about race.

“So I think it’s important for those who support, as I do, immigration reform and pathways to citizenship for folks who are here, not to assume that everybody who has trouble with the current immigration system, is automatically racist. That’s an example of us being able to listen,” he said.

“We need to continue to send a message that we are intolerant to the hate and injustice happening across our most vulnerable and marginalized communities right now — blacks, transgender, Muslims, immigrants,” said Salcedo. “We need to stand in solidarity together because we are stronger. I personally like to see Fil-Am youth, stepping into this conversations and spaces.”

When the 44th president was asked about social media’s impact on young people, he said:

“As you grow up, you’re going to learn and change and evolve in all kinds of ways. And that is healthy and normal. But the problem now is with the internet, that past is always there. One way to think about it is just to own it. Because, I mean it is true that if you had pictures of everything I’d done when I was in high school, I probably wouldn’t have been President of the United States.”

Obama has series of public appearances in the US and in Europe. He will be in Boston on May 7th to accept the JFK Profile-in-Courage award.



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  • Mario
    26 April 2017 at 3:36 am - Reply

    After Obama’s visit in Chicago, his next stop is Wall Street, which he delivered one hour speech. Obama received $ 400,000 as speaking fee. When he was President Obama call Wall Street “Fat Cat”, but now he is likely thanking them.