Since rising to prominence in 2004 with a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, President and Mrs. Obama have delivered hundreds of speeches that offer hope and wisdom gleaned from their own journeys, and reflect on what defines America’s story. What’s most striking when you revisit their remarks is that no matter the setting, the message is consistent: Ordinary people have a voice, and collectively hold the power to bring about change. That idea is core to our mission at the Obama Foundation and central to the story that will be told at the Obama Presidential Center. As the Obamas’ celebrate the class of 2020, here are some of their most memorable words that power our work years later.
A young State Senator named Barack Obama burst on the political scene with this speech to a national audience at the 2004 Democratic Convention. The world was about to change.
After unexpectedly losing the New Hampshire primary, then-Senator Obama revived his supporters by citing “a creed written into the founding documents...” that became a rallying cry for his campaign.
Mrs. Obama would later recall that the stakes felt so high for this nationally televised address that she rehearsed until “I could place the commas in my sleep.”
In one of his first graduation ceremonies as president, President Obama visited South Bend, Indiana, and stressed the importance of finding common ground with those who disagree in order to deliver change.
Inside a Soweto church that played an important role in the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, Mrs. Obama offers a call to action to women from across the continent.
Speaking at the Ohio State University’s commencement ceremony, President Obama made a pitch for civic engagement as a lifelong pursuit.
On the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches, President Obama and the First Family joined thousands of Americans to honor veterans of the Civil Rights movement who bled on Edmund Pettus Bridge in support of voting rights.
A daughter of the South Side testifies to the strength, resilience, and potential of this community at the King College Prep Class of 2015 commencement.
Seven months before the end of his term, President Obama called on Howard University graduates to empathize, listen, and strategize to bring about change.
In her final speech as First Lady, Mrs. Obama called on young people to “lead by example with hope, never fear."
The President’s farewell address, delivered in Chicago, looked back on his eight years and ended with his one last ask of the American people: “I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change—but in yours.”
At our 2019 Obama Foundation Summit, President Obama shares why he and Mrs. Obama chose to focus the rest of their lives on empowering a new generation of leaders.