'Yes We Did': Tearful Obama Rejects Discrimination Against Muslims, Highlights Faith In Last Speech


President Obama gave his official farewell speech in Chicago last night.Reuters

President Barack Obama was moved to tears last night as he gave his farewell speech.

He spoke about the profound importance of faith, family, and hope.

And he spoke out against some of the key platforming policies by his Rebublican opponent during the election campaign.

"I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans," he said.

The outgoing President was speaking in his home city of Chicago. His valedictory speech reflected on the achievements and struggles of his two-term administration, and looked toward the future, highlighting the importance of citizenship, good disagreement, and the belief in the greater good.

Obama reflected on the profound lessons he learned in his early twenties: "It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.

"This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it."

The President was not afraid to speak of God and government together.

He said: "The beating heart of our American idea...It's the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

He added: "This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good."

Obama was moved to tears when he came to thank his family. To his wife Michelle he said, "You took on a role you didn't ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody." To his daughters Malia and Sasha he said: "Of all that I've done in my life, I'm most proud to be your dad."

President Barack Obama (C) is joined onstage by first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia, after his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, last night.Reuters

He addressed many themes and issues in his speech, including the pervasiveness of racial division, the vitriol present in much political discourse, and the problem of social media bubbles which work to exacerbate social polarisation. He called for renewed united participation in American democracy, and urged people to believe the best of one another: "We rise or fall as one," he said.  

Speaking against discrimination, he said that change was necessary, but that "Laws alone won't be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Themes such as hope and belief in the possibility of change have been central to Obama's presidency since he ran for election in 2008. As he closed this speech, he said: "I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.

"I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:

Yes We Can."

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