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)
“My friends and I started a program to mentor students at the elementary school next door. We helped each other keep the good work going. When I got to Howard I hit the ground running—joining student organizations, getting an internship at the White House during the Obama administration, and becoming a mentee as part of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, where I had the chance to meet President Obama, ask him for advice, and share what was going on in my life. “Since beginning my mentorship program five years ago, I’ve found a passion for combating disparities and inequalities I see. My mission is to change the world one community at a time. I recently founded my own nonprofit to help out other college students, providing scholarships and highlighting the achievement and impact of minority students across the U.S. ” —Jerron Hawkins, 21, participant at #MBKRising, Washington D.C. (2/3)
Meet Jerron Hawkins. He’s a young man I got to know when he was a White House mentee in 2014, and he’s one of the hundreds of people coming to Oakland this week for MBK Rising!, a nationwide gathering of community members and partners that represent the My Brother’s Keeper movement. We’re bringing these groups together to celebrate five years of progress on behalf of boys and young men of color—and to set our sights on the road ahead. Since we started My Brother’s Keeper five years ago, one of the things we’ve seen consistently is the power of mentoring as a tool to help young people address the challenges they face and see the opportunities in front of them. Mentoring just works. Today, I’m turning my Instagram account over to Jerron to tell you a little about his experience with mentorship. His story shows us what’s possible when we invest in our young people and show them we believe in their promise. It’s the kind of story we should hear more often—the kind we’ll hear a lot of in Oakland this week. It’s the kind story that gives me hope. “At the beginning of high school, I felt like I wasn’t operating with purpose. I wasn’t helping anyone. I was selected to be a member of my principal’s student leadership team and I thought ‘Why me? I don’t see myself like this.’ But in senior year, I found AMATE—African American Males Aspiring to Excel—a mentoring program for young men of color. What was so powerful to me about the group was the vulnerability. As guys, we were used to not talking about our problems. We bottled it all up and called it pride. So to be in this group of young men, sharing their feelings and being vulnerable with each other, was life-changing for me.”—Jerron Hawkins, 21, participant at #MBKRising, Washington D.C. (1/3)
Five years ago, I launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative calling on all Americans to take action on behalf our nation’s boys and young men of color. It was a call to make sure every child felt valued, safe, and supported by their community—a call to help these young men in particular see hope and opportunity in their future. We’ve come a long way in those five years. Today, as part of the @ObamaFoundation, the @MBK_Alliance consists of nearly 250 communities working to break down barriers that too often leave boys and young men of color at a disadvantage. And tomorrow in Oakland, I’ll join the My Brother’s Keeper community to mark the progress we’ve made and chart the course ahead at a celebration we’re calling MBK Rising! In the lead-up to the event, and in honor of Black History Month, I wanted to share a nonfiction reading list that can help to provide some essential context about the challenges that many people of color face every day. From modern memoirs to cornerstones of the American narrative, these works can help us better understand our country’s past and our evolving, persistent struggles with race—and they can be fuel on our journey toward a more fair and just future for all of our sons and daughters. They certainly are for me. I hope you’ll take some time to read some of these books, letters, and articles. And tomorrow, I hope you’ll follow along with MBK Rising! at Obama.org/mbka. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson A Stone of Hope: A Memoir by Jim St. Germain with Jon Sternfeld The Upshot from The New York Times: Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
Happy Valentine’s Day to the extraordinarily smart, beautiful, funny, one and only @MichelleObama. It’s true; she does get down to Motown.
Don’t be sad it’s over, be proud it taught us so much. Congrats to all the men and women of @NASA on a Mars rover mission that beat all expectations, inspired a new generation of Americans, and demands we keep investing in science that pushes the boundaries of human knowledge.
As we celebrate Black History Month and Jackie Robinson’s 100th birthday, we celebrate the life of all whose courage opened the gates for everybody, and in the process, made America better.
I knew it way back then and I’m absolutely convinced of it today — you’re one of a kind, @MichelleObama. Happy Birthday!
As a bridge between the East and West, Hawaiʻi is a part of the fabric of both the U.S. and the broader Asia-Pacific region. It’s a place of tremendous diversity and global potential. It’s also the place I call home. This weekend, I had the opportunity to sit down in Hawaiʻi with 21 exceptional emerging leaders from the Asia-Pacific, designing an @ObamaFoundation program that will convene hundreds of changemakers from the region so that they can come together to support each other, share ideas, and solve the greatest challenges they face. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.
As 2018 draws to a close, I’m continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books, movies, and music that I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved. It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors, artists, and storytellers – some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before. Swipe through to see my best of 2018 list – I hope you enjoy reading, watching, and listening.
Enjoy the holiday season with the ones you love. Michelle and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
There’s no better time than the holiday season to give back to your community and spread some holiday cheer. Yesterday I got to do just that at Children’s National Hospital in DC. As we celebrate the season and look forward to the New Year, let’s recommit to doing our part to build a world that is a little more generous, tolerant, and kind. Video: @ObamaFoundation
No jump shots. No ferns. No memes. Not this time. I’m going to give it to you straight: If you need health insurance for 2019, the deadline to get covered is December 15. Head to HealthCare.gov today. Most people can find a plan for less than the price of a monthly cell phone bill. Go to HealthCare.gov and pass this on — you just might save a life.
I am grateful for the next generation of leaders who are doing the work to create the world as it should be. Our young people—tolerant, creative, idealistic—remind us that the best way to honor our communities is to serve them. They understand that hope requires action. From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
When someone shares their story, we see the world through their eyes. I’m looking forward to hearing a few from leaders around the world and sharing my own at the @ObamaFoundation Summit in Chicago. Tune in at Obama.org.
Of course, @MichelleObama’s my wife, so I’m a little biased here. But she also happens to be brilliant, funny, wise – one of a kind. This book tells her quintessentially American story. I love it because it faithfully reflects the woman I have loved for so long.
Today is the day. Today, it’s your turn to raise your voice to change the course of this country for the better. So make it count. Get out there and vote. Go to IWillVote.com or call 833-336-VOTE to confirm where you can vote, check voting hours, and find out if you need to bring anything with you to vote.
As I reflect on election night ten years ago today, I can’t help but think about where my political career started. I wasn’t running for office. I was running a voter-registration drive in Chicago. What I learned then — and what would become the premise of my 2008 campaign — was that you couldn’t just fight for existing votes. You had to reach out to all of these people who had lost faith and lost trust, and get them off the sidelines. So during our first campaign, when I started seeing all these stories about record turnout in communities all over the country — from young people in line for hours in Iowa to elderly folks in lawn chairs down in Florida — I knew that we had shown what is possible when everybody decides to participate. And that, in and of itself, gave people a sense of their own power — their own agency in the kind of country we want to leave for our kids. When more people get off the sidelines and decide to participate, our country becomes a little more representative of its people — of everyone’s collective decision. And American politics can change as a result. So on Election Day this Tuesday, I’m not just asking you to vote. I’m asking you to really show up once again. Talk with your friends, convince some new voters, and get them out to vote because then something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. And with each new step we take in the direction of fairness, and justice, and equality, and opportunity, hope spreads.
Not sure who and what you can vote for? Vote Save America put together a guide to help make sure you walk into the voting booth knowing where you stand on the candidates and initiatives you’ll be voting on. Here’s how it works: Enter your address, and you’ll learn everything you need to know about who’s running to represent you, which measures you have the opportunity to help decide, and more. Now, these ballot initiatives are really important. They allow millions of Americans to make decisions about real, concrete issues in their communities — things like how hard it is to get an assault weapon, who gets tax breaks and why, how we care for our veterans, and what the requirements ought to be for casting a ballot. (That’s right — this election year, millions of Americans can cast a vote to help more Americans cast a vote.) And when you consider the fact that these initiatives tend to be written in a confusing way to begin with, it makes even more to sense to read up and make an informed decision now. Here’s the bottom line: The only thing more important than being a voter is being the most informed voter out there. So make sure November 6 isn’t the first time you’re seeing your ballot. Go to votesaveamerica.com/ballot right now, and let’s get this thing done.
Your vote can decide the health care of millions. Your voice can determine the character of our country. You have power — use it! In most states, you don’t even have to wait until Election Day to cast a ballot. Find out where you can vote before Nov. 6: IWillVote.com
Happy Anniversary, @MichelleObama.For 26 years, you’ve been an extraordinary partner, someone who can always make me laugh, and my favorite person to see the world with.
My brother and friend @JoeBiden is back on Instagram. Welcome back, Joe—you’ll always be one of the rare exceptions to my no-selfies rule.
This is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us, as citizens of the United States, need to determine just who it is that we are. Just what it is that we stand for. And as a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, I delivered a simple message to students at the University of Illinois today. You need to vote, because our democracy depends on it. The biggest threat to our democracy doesn’t come from any one person. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism – a cynicism that’s led too many people to turn away from politics, and to stay home on Election Day. The antidote to government by the powerful few is democracy by the organized many. If you get involved, and engaged, and knock on some doors, and talk with your friends, and argue with your family members, and change some minds, and vote – then something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. With each new candidate that surprises you with a victory, a spark of hope happens. With each new law that helps a kid read, or a poor family find shelter, or a veteran get the support he or she has earned, hope happens. With each new step we take in the direction of fairness, and justice, and equality, and opportunity, hope spreads. I believe that can be the legacy of your generation. You can be the generation that stood up and reminded us just how precious democracy is, and just how powerful it can be when we fight for it. I believe you will. Because I believe in you. And I’ll be right there alongside you, every step of the way.
I just stopped by a high school on Chicago’s Southwest side to meet with students who spent the summer learning to code smartphone apps. These apps are impressive – they are designed to connect people in danger to emergency services, make it easy for students and families to get the latest information about their schools, and even help you decide what to eat to for dinner. It’s part of a program Michelle and I are proud to support called One Summer Chicago, which invests in local youth by providing meaningful educational and professional experiences in safe spaces over the summer. Programs like this aren’t just helping Chicago’s youth gain skills for their own future, they’re also strengthening the pipeline of talent right here on the South Side, the community of the future Obama Presidential Center.
America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance. Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song.
Mandela Day is about taking action to change the world for the better. In these young people, I see Madiba’s example of persistence and hope. They are poised to make this world more peaceful, more prosperous, and more just.
Now this is a pretty cool dad move. Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there like Lynell Jinks, who creates beautiful art on his kids’ lunch bags to remind them to be proud of their own gifts.
Over the past few days, the first class of @obamafoundation Fellows gathered to get to know each other and share what they’ve learned from their inspiring work. From Minnesota to Mali, these 20 leaders have dedicated their lives to building a better world. I can’t wait to learn from each of them and watch their impact grow as they work together and with us over the next two years.
Happy Valentine’s Day, @MichelleObama. You make every day and every place better.
Today, @KehindeWiley and @ASheraldbecame the first black artists to create official presidential portraits for the Smithsonian. To call this experience humbling would be an understatement. Thanks to Kehinde and Amy, generations of Americans — and young people from all around the world — will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this country through a new lens. They’ll walk out of that museum with a better sense of the America we all love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Inclusive and optimistic. And I hope they’ll walk out more empowered to go and change their worlds.
You’re not only my wife and the mother of my children, you’re my best friend. I love your strength, your grace, and your determination. And I love you more each day. Happy Birthday, @MichelleObama
Name: Tanisha Cidel Organizations: Evolutionary Arts and Entertainment, Norland Middle School and AileyCamp Miami What inspires me: Motivating our youth and those young at heart to achieve their personal success. I use innovative ways to teach the performing arts while sneaking in life lessons, building confidence, being compassionate, and listening to my students. At the #ObamaSummit I am hoping to share: My enthusiasm and passion for arts in education, and how imperative it is to utilize the arts as a vehicle to create social change.
Name: Genevieve Whitaker Organization: Virgin Islands Youth Advocacy Coalition, Inc. What inspires me: I am inspired and rather humbled by my God-given calling to serve as an agent for systemic change within my society and, by extension, the world. At the #ObamaSummit I’m hoping to share: The experiences that have shaped my human rights activism and my vision for change.
Name: Darius Ballinger Organization: Chasing23 Youth Empowerment Group What inspires me: I used to be a high school dropout and an inmate. I thought my very being didn’t matter—but all that has changed. I know now that who I am—as a husband, a father, and a mentor—matters. At the #ObamaSummit I’m hoping to share: The idea that every single person, regardless of who they are or where they come from, matters.
We’ve invited civic leaders from all over the world to Chicago for a hands-on exchange of ideas—and I’m turning my Instagram account over to some of them. Meet some of the amazing young people who have come up with creative ways to make an impact in their communities, and follow @obamafoundation for more on the #ObamaSummit.
Last night, the ex-Presidents got together in Texas to support all our fellow Americans rebuilding from this year’s hurricanes. We’ve seen a lot of hardship and heartbreak in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. But in the darkness, we’ve seen shining examples of what’s best about America. Neighbors pitching in to help their neighbors, veterans dropping in to help people they’ve never met, Americans taking care of one another, looking out for one another, without regard for what we look like, where we come from, or how we pray. If you want to know who we are, what America is, how we step up when required – that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Without fear. And for as long as it takes. Find out how you can help at OneAmericaAppeal.org. Photo by @PeteSouza
When I left office, I told you all that the single most important thing I could do would be to help prepare the next generation of leaders to take their own crack at changing the world. The @ObamaFoundation Fellows program is looking to do just that — train and support civic innovators who are solving problems in their communities in creative and powerful ways. Apply to join our inaugural class of twenty Fellows by Friday, October 6th: www.Obama.org/Fellowship
These young people that I met at McKinley Tech today are the reason I’m hopeful about the future. To all the young people headed back to school around the country: Make us proud. You’re the next generation of leaders, and we need you.
Have a #blessed Halloween.
Quotes from the President—for your wall. Get a poster from the @OFA Store today. → Link in profile.
Not all heroes wear capes—but some do.
“At the end of the day, the one thing I’m absolutely convinced about is: Everybody cares about their kids, their grandkids, and the kind of world we pass on to them.” —President Obama #ActOnClimate #SXSL
“Last year, across every race, across every age group in America, incomes rose and poverty fell. The typical household income grew by about $2,800—which is the single-biggest one-year increase on record. We lifted 3.5 million people out of poverty, the largest one-year drop since 1968.” —President Obama
“That’s our most important mission, to make sure our kids and our grandkids have at least as beautiful a planet, and hopefully more beautiful, than the one that we have. And today, I’m a little more confident that we can get the job done.” —President Obama #ActOnClimate#ParisAgreement
Happy Anniversary. ?
Fall is in the air. ?
“We embrace conservation because healthy and diverse lands and waters help us build resilience to climate change.” —President Obama Taking bold action to combat climate change is critical—say you support the fight. → Link in profile. #ActOnClimate
Happy 100th birthday to our National Park Service, which works tirelessly to preserve our parks. These breathtaking national treasures show the real beauty of our country, and our children and grandchildren should be able to enjoy that beauty, too. That’s why President Obama has worked so hard to protect more than 265 million acres of land and water—more than any other president in history. #NPS100
Happy #NationalBookLoversDay to readers young and old.
Make sure to show President Obama some love today—wish him a happy 55th birthday. Sign the card now. → Link in profile.