“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”
Barack Hussein Obama had emphasised unity in his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His belief in a world united, free of discrimination of all forms, originated from his own experiences and upbringing. The address not only put his immaculate oratory skills on display but also shared a future that Barack Obama envisaged and strived to bring to light during his presidential tenure.
By 2008, he had submitted his name for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the possibility of the first African-American US President spread like wildfire, so did his election slogan “Yes We Can”. His appeal and foresight cut across all barriers; US voters came in unison to cast their ballots for the Chicago politician, who won the Presidential race and on November 5, 2008, took the Oval Office as the 44th President of the United States of America.
Obama’s contribution towards diplomacy for peace was even acknowledged by the Nobel jury, who awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. After his tenure as the leader of America, he continues to work towards change through his Obama Foundation. The aim of the Foundations is to inspire and empower people to change their world.
As the former US President is set to take the stage to address young leaders in New Delhi on December 1, we list some of his resonating quotes that you can reflect upon.
Be the harbinger of change and hope
“So don’t let anyone tell you that change is not possible. Don’t let them tell you that standing out and speaking up about injustice is too risky. What’s too risky is keeping quiet. What’s too risky is looking the other way.”
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.”
“Hope—Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation.”
Hard work and perseverance never fail
“We are not perfect, but we have the capacity to be more perfect — mile after mile, step after step. We cannot ignore the problems that we have, but we can’t stop running the race.”
“We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and strengthen our union once more.”
“Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old.”
“It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.”
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”
“If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all.”
Take the lead when it comes to change
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
“Justice is not only the absence of oppression — it is the presence of opportunity. Justice is making sure that every young person knows that they are special and their lives matter. Justice is living up to the common creed that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper. Justice and redemption go hand in hand.”
“We shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world.”
“The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech.”
Remember, all it takes to bring change is that one step in the right direction backed by determination and perseverance.
What’s your favourite Obama quote? Tell us in the comments below.