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.

“It's that fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. ‘E pluribus Unum.’ Out of many, one.” Democratic National Convention Keynote Address, 2004
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“When we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.” New Hampshire Primary speech, January 8, 2008
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“...I believe that each of us — no matter what our age or background or walk of life — each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation…” Democratic Convention Speech, 2008
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“When we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe — that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.” Notre Dame Commencement Ceremony, 2009
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“You may not always have a comfortable life. And you will not always be able to solve all the world’s problems all at once. But don’t ever underestimate the impact you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” Young African Women Leaders Forum, 2011
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“You can’t give up your passion if things don’t work right away...it’s those folks who stay at it, those who do the long, hard, committed work of change that gradually push this country in the right direction, and make the most lasting difference." The Ohio State University Commencement, 2013
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“Loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo.” 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches, 2015
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“I want people across this country to know...the real story of the South Side....I want you all to know, graduates, that with your roots in this community and your education from this school, you have everything you need to succeed.” Martin Luther King Preparatory High School Commencement Address, 2015
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“You have to go through life with more than just passion for change; you need a strategy. I’ll repeat that. I want you to have passion, but you have to have a strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes.” Remarks at Howard University Commencement, 2016
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“...something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives...is the power of hope — the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it…” First Lady Honors School Counselor of the Year, 2017
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“Democracy has always been hard...it needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.” Farewell Address, January 2017
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“Michelle and I, when we decided what are we going to do next, there are a bunch of issues we care about and will work on, but the most important thing we figured we could do is pass the baton to as many people as possible and cultivate as much talent as possible at every level.” Obama Foundation Summit, 2019
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