Dad, husband, President, citizen.
In his inaugural address, one year ago today, President Biden committed to “press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility.” In the year since, he and @VP Harris have made significant strides in the face of enormous challenges, bringing us closer to the America we know we can be. I knew Joe had the temperament and resilience for this job. For eight years, I witnessed firsthand the empathy and precision he brought to our work repairing the American economy, and one year into his presidency, his administration has led another historic recovery effort. Under @POTUS’s leadership, our economy set the record for the most jobs added in a single year, with the fastest-ever one-year decline in unemployment in our nation’s history. We’ve rejoined the Paris Agreement and are taking important steps to once again lead the fight against climate change. We’ve built on the Affordable Care Act to expand access to health care. And we’ve passed a crucial infrastructure law to improve our roads and buildings. These are all promising signs that the country is moving in the right direction. We’re not where we need to be yet. We still have to secure our democracy, build a more equitable economy that works for all Americans, and take meaningful steps to address the climate crisis. But while it won’t be easy, I still believe we can create a brighter future together — and I look forward to watching the Biden Administration build on this progress in the years ahead.
When Michelle and I launched the @ObamaFoundation, we turned to you first. We read your letters and emails, listened to your ideas, and met with the kind of young leaders we wanted to cultivate and support. Five years later, we've launched programs to empower young men and boys of color through @MBK_Alliance, encouraged girls to complete their education around the world through @GirlsOpportunityAlliance, and given young leaders the tools and the support they need to change their own communities through our Obama Leaders program. Take a look at the work we’ve been able to do with your help, and learn about our vision for the next few years at Obama.org.
Happy birthday, Michelle. My love, my partner, my best friend...
With the King family marching today, we remember that the fight for voting rights takes perseverance. As Dr. King said, “There are no broad highways to lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. We must keep going.” May we honor his memory through action forged in faith.
Now is the time for the U.S. Senate to do the right thing and call a vote on crucial voting rights legislation. Future generations are counting on us to protect our democracy. That’s why I fully support @POTUS’s call to modify Senate rules as necessary to make sure pending voting rights legislation gets called for a vote. And every American who cares about the survival of our most cherished institutions should support the President’s call as well. I wrote out some thoughts about why this is so important. Take a moment to read it at the link in my bio.
Five years ago during my Farewell Address, I asked you to believe in your ability to bring about change. Since then, many of you have answered the call—starting nonprofits, organizing around important issues, and running for office yourselves. Take a moment to read some of those stories at the link in my bio. And add a note in the comments about the work you’ve been doing to create change in your community.
Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans.
One year ago, a violent attack on our Capitol made it clear just how fragile the American experiment in democracy really is. Here’s my statement on what the anniversary means, and what we need to do today.
When Harry Reid was nearing the end, his wife Landra asked some of us to share letters that she could read to him. In lieu of a statement, here’s what I wrote to my friend: Harry, I got the news that the health situation has taken a rough turn, and that it’s hard to talk on the phone. Which, let’s face it, is not that big of a change cause you never liked to talk on the phone anyway! Here’s what I want you to know. You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect. I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination. Most of all, you’ve been a good friend. As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other - a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team. Enjoy your family, and know you are loved by a lot of people, including me. The world is better cause of what you’ve done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight. Barack
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others. A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere. He never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly.
Merry Christmas, everybody! This year, I got a little help spreading holiday cheer from Sunny. Wishing you all a peaceful and joyful holiday season with the ones you love.
I've always enjoyed listening to a wide variety of music, so it’s no surprise that I listened to a little bit of everything this year. I hope you find a new artist or song to add to your own playlist.
Next up are my favorite movies of the year. Each of these films tells a powerful story, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Over the next few days, I'll share my annual list of favorite books, music, and movies. Art always sustains and nourishes the soul. But for me, music and storytelling felt especially urgent during this pandemic year—a way to connect even when we were cooped up. Since these are works I have actually listened to, watched, or read, I’m sure I’ve missed some worthy stuff. So if you have your own recommendations to share, I’ll add them to the stack of books and movies I hope to catch up on over the holidays! I’ll start by sharing some of the books that I read this year that left a lasting impression, and I’m excited to share my favorite movies and music in the days to come.
Nine years ago was one of the darkest days of my presidency. Today we remember the children and adults who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, and the families who have endured so much grief. The best way to honor them—the only way that really matters—is to fight this epidemic of gun violence and prevent even more senseless death and suffering. We can, and must, do more.
Michelle and I loved being back in Chicago last week. It was a quick trip, but we packed a lot in — and met some fantastic people along the way. Take a look.
Eighty years ago today, over 2,400 Americans lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Today we remember them, and all those who fought to protect our freedom.
Michelle and I wanted to give Santa a hand passing out gifts for the holidays, so we made a stop at the @ComerChildrens Hospital. We hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season.
I heard the @ChicagoSky and @ChicagoBulls were visiting the South Side YMCA, so I decided to drop by, too. It’s always fun to meet young people who are learning to love the game.
Michelle and I are in Chicago this week to talk to folks who are working on some of the city’s toughest challenges. Yesterday, I met with leaders from across Chicago, heard their stories, shared ideas, and talked about what needs to be done. Change is never easy, but we want them to know they’re not alone.
If you got your COVID-19 vaccine before June, now is the time to get a booster shot. All adults are eligible for the booster—just go to vaccines.gov to find a vaccine and booster location near you.
Getting our kids fully vaccinated is the best way to protect them against COVID-19. Today, Dr. Fauci and I stopped by Kimball Elementary School to meet with families and kids getting their vaccines—and encourage more parents and kids to do the same.
As we enter this season of giving and gratitude, I want to express my appreciation for the inspiring work being done by a new generation of leaders around the world. These leaders come from many walks of life, but all of them are using their voices and talents to lift up their communities. People like Rachid Ennassiri, founder of The Moroccan Youth Centre for Sustainable Energy, who is helping young people take a more active role in promoting renewable energy and fighting climate change. Michelle and I started the @ObamaFoundation to train and empower young leaders like Rachid to pick up the baton and make change. And on this Giving Tuesday, we hope you’ll join us and help them do even more by supporting the Obama Foundation's work at Obama.org/donate.
One of our goals with the Obama Presidential Center is to support some of the incredible small business leaders in the local community. Earlier this year, I had a chance to speak with Eric Williams, the owner of the @TheSilverRoom in Hyde Park. This Small Business Saturday, take some time to show some love to the hardworking small businesses in your city. They appreciate it more than you know.
This Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the many things—big and small—we have to be thankful for. Michelle and I are especially grateful for our family, for the progress we continue to make as a country, and for the young leaders around the world who are working to build a better future. We send our warmest wishes to everyone celebrating today, and hope you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.
Happy birthday to my friend and my brother, @POTUS! Thanks for giving all of us the gift of better infrastructure. Grateful for all you’re doing to build this country back better.
When it comes to climate change, we can’t afford to go backward—or even stay where we are. If we are going to act on the scale that’s required to combat this climate crisis, we all need to step up and meet this moment together.
It’s been one year since my memoir, A Promised Land, was released. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read it. I’ve especially enjoyed the conversations I’ve had with book clubs and students, and reading comments from people who have shared their feedback. I began writing this book shortly after the end of my presidency, and I hoped to give an honest rendering of my time in office—not just a historical record of key events that happened on my watch and important figures with whom I interacted, but also an account of some of the political, economic, and cultural crosscurrents that helped determine the challenges my administration faced and the choices we made in response. I also wanted to offer readers a sense of what it was like to be the President of the United States, while telling a more personal story that might inspire young people to consider a life of public service. I’m hoping to read their stories next. #APromisedLand
In 2011, my Administration made a pledge to prepare 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next 10 years. I couldn't be prouder to hear that @100Kin10 not only met that goal, but trained an additional 8,000 teachers who will make a difference for our kids.
Young people like @JackHarries and our @ObamaFoundation leaders are using their platforms to pressure the world on climate change. As we move forward with the Glasgow Climate Pact, we must listen and follow through on our commitments to protect our planet and secure a better future.
To every veteran and their family, we thank you for your service and sacrifice to our country. This Veterans Day, I want to share Tom Voutsos's story. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and has continued to live a life dedicated to public service. Through @LadderUpHousing, he’s helping hardworking folks who traditionally can’t get home loans buy their own homes.
Young people have more at stake in the fight against climate change than anyone else. I had a chance to talk with some young people who are helping lead the fight, and could not be more impressed by their courage, creativity, and persistence. They give me hope. To all the young people out there, as well as those of you who consider yourselves young at heart, I want you to stay angry. I want you to stay frustrated. But channel that anger. Harness that frustration. Gird yourself for a marathon, not a sprint. Because that’s what’s required to meet this challenge. Let’s get to work.
I spoke at COP26 in Glasgow about what’s happened in the six years since the Paris Agreement, and how much further we still need to go to control climate change. The good news is that countries around the world recognize that this is a decisive decade if we want to avoid a climate disaster, and are setting important goals for 2030. They’ve also committed to help poorer countries move away from fossil fuels and deal with the effects of climate change. But, once again, progress is partial. Most nations have failed to be as ambitious as they need to be, and the escalation of ambition that we anticipated in Paris six years ago has not been uniformly realized. That’s why, if we’re going to act on the scale that’s required, climate change can’t be seen as another opportunity to score political points. We need everybody. And young people in particular have an opportunity to make a real difference. Photo Credit: UN Climate Change | Kiara Worth
Five years ago today, the Paris Agreement went into effect. Leaders of nearly 200 nations—large and small, developed and developing—made a commitment to work together to confront a threat to the people of all nations. It was proof that, for all the divisions in our world, when a crisis threatens all of us, we can come together to address it. Paris showed the world that progress is possible, and we’ve made progress in the years since. But as important as it was, we always knew that Paris wasn’t going to solve the climate crisis on its own. The commitments we made in Paris were always designed to be a start—a foundation for the world to build on. That’s why the steps President Biden wants to take to reduce emissions and promote clean energy are so important. And it’s why I’ll be speaking in Glasgow on Monday about the need to act with more urgency—and how young people in particular can help. Because time really is running out.
Signing the Paris Agreement to fight climate change was one of my proudest moments in office. But it was always a foundation to build on. As world leaders gather for #COP26, I shared some reflections on the road to Paris and the young activists who are pushing us further.
Good conversations don’t follow a script. Like a good song, they’re full of surprises, improvisations, detours. They may be grounded in a specific time and place, reflecting your current state of mind and the current state of the world. But the best conversations also have a timeless quality, taking you back into the realm of memory, propelling you forward towards your deepest hopes and dreams. Sharing these stories reminds you that you’re not alone—and maybe helps you understand yourself a little bit better. That’s why Bruce @Springsteen and I recorded our podcast last year, and worked together on this book, Renegades: Born in the USA. The book features our conversations in full, along with some of our personal photos, and hand-written notes. We hope you’ll read it and get inspired to start some of your own conversations with family and friends about your lives and the world around us.
It was great to be back in New Jersey! There's too much at stake in this election to sit it out. Let's keep New Jersey moving forward by re-electing @PhilMurphyNJ and Democrats up and down the ballot. Make a plan to vote early—and get everyone you know to do the same.
Virginians delivered for me twice, and now I’m asking them to do it again by electing @TerryMcAuliffe as the next governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Every bit of progress in Virginia is at stake in this election: from expanding access to health care, to securing voting rights, to fighting climate change. So make a plan to vote early at iwillvote.com/va, and get your friends and family to do the same.
General Colin Powell understood what was best in this country, and tried to bring his own life, career, and public statements in line with that ideal. Michelle and I will always look to him as an example of what America—and Americans—can and should be.
Today, the city of Chicago and the world lost an icon with the passing of Timuel Black. Tim spent decades chronicling and lifting up Black Chicago history. But he also made plenty of history himself. After moving to Chicago with his family as part of the Great Migration, Tim served in the military during World War II — surviving the Normandy invasion, and fighting across France and in the Battle of the Bulge. Tim visited Buchenwald shortly after it was liberated, witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust. That experience, along with the racial discrimination he faced in the Army, deepened his resolve to fight for social justice. And after returning home to Chicago, he became a fierce advocate for change through education and mutual understanding. Over his 102 years, Tim was many things: a veteran, historian, author, educator, civil rights leader, and humanitarian. But above all, Tim was a testament to the power of place, and how the work we do to improve one community can end up reverberating through other neighborhoods and other cities, eventually changing the world. Today, Michelle and I send our thoughts to Tim’s wife Zenobia, and everyone who loved and admired this truly incredible man.
I was deeply saddened today to learn about the passing of General Ray Odierno after a battle with cancer. General Odierno devoted his life to serving this country, from the day he graduated West Point, through multiple tours of duty, and ultimately as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and as the Army chief of staff. As President, I relied on Ray’s deep knowledge, steady leadership, and strong judgment. It’s why I trusted him to help come up with the plan to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq, and to execute it in a way that kept our forces and the Iraqi people safe. I was far from the only person to depend on Ray’s counsel, and to appreciate both his strategic and operational talents. Today, our military is stronger and the world is safer thanks to Ray’s service, and for that I will always be grateful. Michelle and I send our thoughts to Ray’s wife Linda, their children, and everyone who is mourning his loss today.
Some of my favorite moments as President were at our annual White House Science Fair. The goal of the science fair was to help more young people discover the magic of science, technology, engineering, and math. And the projects we saw were incredibly creative. Over the years, I shot a marshmallow out of a cannon beneath Lincoln’s portrait. I learned about prototypes from six-year-old Girl Scouts who built a page-turning machine out of Legos. I met with two kids who developed a 3-D printed arm and attachable lever that could help support disabled people in wheelchairs. And I learned about a tool that could help keep athletes cool while they’re on the field. Our latest production from Higher Ground, Ada Twist, Scientist, is inspired by The Questioneers book series, and will continue the work we started at the White House. We hope this show helps inspire young people to love science and use their imagination to create and experiment. Check it out with your families on Netflix.
Happy anniversary, Miche! Over the past 29 years, I've loved watching the world get to know you not just as a daughter of the South Side, but as a mother, lawyer, executive, author, First Lady, and my best friend. I can’t imagine life without you.
Today we officially broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago. Chicago is where I found my purpose, and where I finally put my ideas about democracy and activism and social change to the test. Most important, it’s where I met a brilliant, beautiful daughter of the South Side named Michelle Robinson. We were married here, our daughters were born here, and we bought our first home here. Chicago is where almost everything that’s most precious to me began. It’s where I found a home. We will always be grateful for that, and the Obama Presidential Center is our way of repaying some of what this city has given us. But we’re also building this Center because we believe it can speak to some of the central struggles of our time. We are living through a moment of rapid disruption – in technology and the global economy, in our social arrangements and our environment. Too often, it feels as if our major institutions have failed to respond effectively to these disruptions. And in the breach, we’ve seen a growing culture of cynicism and mistrust, more division and more bitter conflict. The good news is we can reverse these trends, reimagine our institutions, and rebuild our societies in a way that gives more and more people a better life. I believe that because I’ve seen it. Around the world and right here in Chicago, there are young people who aren’t waiting for someone else to solve big problems. Instead, in the face of sometimes impossible odds, they are rolling up their sleeves and putting down stakes and making a difference, one neighborhood, one school, one community at a time. This coming generation of leaders is the source of my hope. And through this Center, we intend to give these young people the training, support, resources and platforms they need to fully realize their enormous potential, collaborate and share ideas, and bring their dreams to scale. Michelle and I can’t imagine a better legacy than that. For in this next generation of leaders, in Chicago and around the world, we see ourselves. The Obama Presidential Center is our way of showing young people everywhere that they can do the same.
Michelle and I had fun surprising some of the hardworking women from the Chicago Women in Trades. We’re grateful for the work they're doing—not only to build the Obama Presidential Center, but also to make it easier for more people to follow their example.
It was great meeting our newest class of @ObamaFoundation Scholars at @UChicago. Young leaders like them are the source of my hope, and I believe they will power a brighter future for all of us. Whenever I’m with a group like this, I think back to when I was about their age. I came to Chicago when I was 23, and while I knew I wanted to make a difference, I didn’t really know how to do it. Our hope with the Obama Scholars program—and the Obama Presidential Center more broadly—is to give young leaders like them the training, support, resources and platforms they need to fully realize their potential, collaborate and share ideas, and bring their dreams to scale.
Chicago will always be an important place to Michelle and me. It’s where I got my start in public service, where Michelle grew up, and where we started our family. The Obama Presidential Center is our opportunity to give something back—strengthening the South Side, training the next generation of civic leaders, and giving more people the tools they need to make a difference in communities across the country and around the world. That’s why Michelle and I are excited to celebrate the Center’s virtual groundbreaking in Chicago next week. This will be a chance to recognize all of the leaders, organizers, and friends who have helped us get to this point, and we hope you'll join us virtually on Tuesday, September 28 at obama.org/groundbreaking.
Ten years ago today, we repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Today our military is stronger and our country is safer because patriotic Americans no longer have to live a lie in order to defend the country they love. The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ allowed these two Marines to be true to themselves while serving in our military. Listen to their story at the link in my bio.
Today we honor the nearly 3,000 men, women, and children who died on September 11, 2001, and even more who lost their lives in service to our country in the two decades since. We reaffirm our commitment to keep a sacred trust with their families — including the children who lost parents, and who have demonstrated such extraordinary resilience. But this anniversary is also about reflecting on what we’ve learned in the 20 years since that awful morning. That list of lessons is long and growing. But one thing that became clear on 9/11 — and has been clear ever since — is that America has always been home to heroes who run towards danger in order to do what is right. For Michelle and me, the enduring image of that day is not simply falling towers or smoldering wreckage. It’s the firefighters running up the stairs as others were running down. The passengers deciding to storm a cockpit, knowing it could be their final act. The volunteers showing up at recruiters’ offices across the country in the days that followed, willing to put their lives on the line. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen the same courage and selflessness on display again and again. We saw it a decade ago when, after years of persistence, our military brought justice to Osama bin Laden. And we’re seeing it today — in the doctors and nurses, bone tired, doing what they can to save lives; the servicemembers, some of whom weren’t even born 20 years ago, putting themselves at risk to save Americans and help refugees find a better life; the first responders battling roaring fires and rising waters to bring families to safety. They represent what is best in America, and what can and should bring us together. 9/11 reminded us how so many Americans give of themselves in extraordinary ways — not just in moments of great crisis, but every single day. Let’s never forget that, and let’s never take them for granted. #NeverForget911
The pandemic has devastated communities everywhere. But the young leaders in our newest class of @ObamaFoundation Scholars give me hope for a better future. They’re tackling some of our most pressing issues like climate change and racial injustice, and leaving the world a little better than they found it. Congratulations, Scholars, and good luck this year. Michelle and I can’t wait to see where you end up.
Labor Day is about honoring folks like Maurice Harris—a devoted husband and father of five, who has spent his career working in the trades in Chicago. He credits the trades for providing him with the skills and opportunities he needed to support his family. Maurice’s journey wasn’t easy. At 19, his father passed away and he started heading down a path that eventually led him to joining a gang. After ten years, he decided to make some changes, getting his start in the trades through Chicago’s St. Paul Church of God in Christ Community Development Ministries, Inc. Today, Maurice works as a journey level plumber on sites across Chicago. And soon he’ll be working on the Obama Presidential Center as part of our Construction Workforce Initiative. He also recently sent his oldest daughter off to college at Southern Illinois University. Maurice hopes to inspire young people by sharing his story. “Any young guy I can come to on the streets, on the trains, on street corners,” he said. “Whenever I see someone going the wrong way and doing things that won’t take them where they want to go in life, I’ll stop and talk to them about it and keep talking to them about it. I get on their nerves sometimes, but I don’t care. They need to hear it from someone who’s been in their position.” This Labor Day, let’s honor all the working men and women like Maurice who make this country what it is – and the American labor movement that has protected them, especially during the pandemic.
We’re at a turning point in the redistricting process. We’ll start to see initial maps using newly released Census data in just a few weeks, and a majority of the country’s electoral maps could be passed by December. The new district lines will dictate our ability to make progress on the issues we care about—and have the potential to determine the trajectory of voting rights in our country. @AllOnTheLine has spent the last three years training volunteers, community leaders, and activists to get involved in their state’s redistricting process. Join them as they fight for fair maps: AllOnTheLine.org
When Bruce @springsteen and I first sat down in the summer of 2020 to record our podcast Renegades: Born in the USA, we didn’t know how our conversations would turn out. What we did know was that we both had a lot on our minds, including some fundamental questions about the turn this nation we loved seemed to have taken. Since the podcast was released, we’ve heard from folks who’ve reached out to say something in what they heard connected with them, whether it was the imprint our fathers left on us; or the disappointments and moments of grace that arose as we navigated America’s racial divide; or the joy and redemption that our families have provide us. People told us that our conversation made them think about their own childhoods. Their own dads. Their own hometowns. They also asked us questions, wanting to know a little more about the stories we told – which is why we’re releasing Renegades: Born in the USA book. In the book, you can read our conversations in full, read the text of speeches, see personal photos, and hand-written song lyrics that track some of the moments described in the podcast, and that serve as reference points for the criss-crossing roads that each of us have traveled. You can get it wherever books are sold on October 26.
Even when he was confined to the darkness of a jail cell, Madiba’s light shone brightly. Today, as we reflect on his legacy, I see Mandela’s spirit alive in our Obama Foundation leaders. I’m inspired by their service, and the work they’re doing to create the change we need now. So on Mandela Day, get to know some of the leaders that are carrying on his legacy: Obama.org/africa
John Lewis and C.T. Vivian loved this country so much that they risked their lives so that it might live up to its promise. They gave all of themselves to the cause of freedom and justice, and inspired generations to try to live up to their example. Now it's up to us to continue the work they started and carry the baton of justice forward. As Republican legislatures across the country deliberately try to make it harder to cast a ballot, we need to keep fighting to make sure every citizen has a voice and a vote. The future of our country is at stake.
Starting today, working families are getting monthly payments of up to $300 per child thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. This is an historic step that will help families make ends meet and lift millions of children out of poverty. ChildTaxCredit.gov
With so many folks getting together with family and friends, there’s a lot to celebrate this summer. I put together a playlist of some of the songs I’ve been listening to lately — it’s a mix of old and new, household names and emerging artists, and a whole lot in between.
Whether you’re camped out on the beach or curled up on the couch on a rainy day, there's nothing quite like sitting down with a great book in the summer. While we were still in the White House, I began sharing my summer favorites—and over the years, it’s become a little tradition that I look forward to sharing with you all. So without further ado, here are some books I've read recently. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Happy Fourth of July, and Happy Birthday, Malia! It’s been such a joy to watch you begin to make your own way in the world with poise, grace, and humor. I miss the days when you thought the fireworks were for you.
Libraries are citadels of knowledge and empathy—and they’ve played an extraordinarily important role in my life. I spoke with @Smithsonian Secretary Bunch about our shared love of books, A Promised Land, and the role storytelling plays in shaping our history.
As President I had the chance to review requests for clemency from people who were incarcerated. It was a task I never took lightly, since I knew my decision could change the course of someone’s life. That was certainly true for John Gargano, Jr. I granted John clemency in 2016, and just last month, he graduated from New York University with an impressive 3.9 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Management Studies. John grew up on a small vegetable farm in New Jersey. He later moved to Philadelphia after high school and began working various jobs to make ends meet. While there, he started using and selling drugs and was ultimately arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison, despite being a non-violent first-time offender. For the first three years he was incarcerated, John didn’t want to talk to anyone. But he eventually vowed that he “would refuse to allow his sentence to break him” and turned to education to "inspire and restore his hope for the future." He started taking classes through the Ohio University College Program for the Incarcerated, and helped others prepare for their GED. After John was granted clemency, the transition out of the criminal justice system wasn’t easy. But he credits family and programs like the Coming Home Project at St. Luke’s Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, the Three Strikes Project, and the Colleges Initiative at John Jay College for helping him make it through. In 2017, John enrolled at Hostos Community College and graduated with a 4.0 GPA and an Associate's degree in Business Management. In 2019, he transferred to NYU on a scholarship where he continued to excel in his studies, participating in their Leadership Fellows program and working as a manager at a restaurant. He also worked to help others who were incarcerated find jobs or pursue higher education. Last month, John was selected by his classmates to serve as NYU’s undergraduate student convocation speaker. Today, he works as a general manager at one of Chef Tom Colicchio’s restaurants in New York City and is an advocate for prison reform. John's life is a testament to the power of a second chance—and I could not be prouder of him.
Eleven years ago, I received a letter from Natoma Canfield, a self-employed, 50-year-old woman in Medina, Ohio. We were in the middle of trying to pass the Affordable Care Act, and Natoma—a breast cancer survivor—wanted me to know that because she had a preexisting condition, she was on the verge of no longer being able to afford health coverage and needed help. What struck me most about Natoma’s letter was that she had done everything right. She had paid her premiums on time. She had worked hard to support herself. But through no fault of her own, her rates kept skyrocketing and she was on the verge of losing her home. Her story embodied what the Affordable Care Act was designed to fix. I took Natoma’s letter into a meeting of health insurance executives and read it to them. Then we decided to hold a rally near where she lived, and invited her and her sister to take part. Natoma’s story helped persuade her local member of Congress to switch to a “Yes” vote on health care reform. And later, I was able to thank her at the White House and show her where I hung the letter near the Oval Office. Her letter now hangs in my personal office. On Friday, Natoma passed away after several years of treatment for leukemia. Today, I’m thinking about her and her family, especially her sister Connie. By telling her story, Natoma helped make a difference in the lives of so many like her, and she will remain an inspiration to me for years to come.
I’m really proud of young men like James and Lazarus, who despite the obstacles they have faced, are raising their daughters with tremendous love and care. Eight years after we first met through the Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) program, it was great to catch up with them in Chicago. The program not only helped these young men succeed—it also helped inspire our @MBK_Alliance. To all the dads, father figures, and mentors out there—Happy Father’s Day.
As we celebrate all the dads in our lives this weekend, here’s a conversation I had recently with a great group of dads hosted by @Fatherly. @KevinHart4real dropped by, too. Our latest project from Higher Ground, called Fatherhood, is out this weekend. Check it out on @Netflix.
On the ninth anniversary of DACA, I’m thinking about all the brave DREAMers who have stepped forward to tell their stories. They have fueled a movement that is still working to guarantee the permanent protections they deserve. I will always be inspired by their fight.
Happy birthday, Sasha! You’ve grown so much, and it’s been a joy to watch you become the person we always hoped you’d be. Your mom and I can’t wait to see where life takes you next.
Coaches like @SouthSide_WolfPack’s Ernest Radcliffe are changing lives every single day. They understand how sports can help us build relationships, communicate better, and learn how to get back up when life knocks us down. Thanks for letting me stop by practice, Coach!
Michelle and I always knew we wanted the Obama Presidential Center to be on the South Side of Chicago. It’s a neighborhood we’ve called home and the place where we feel we can have the most impact. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the Center’s neighbors—local business owners who help hold this community together. We talked about how the @ObamaFoundation can catalyze more inclusive economic development in the area and their hopes for the future of the South Side.
Michelle and I are excited to share our latest show from Higher Ground: We The People. Some of our favorite artists got together with amazing animators to remix civics—and the result is a lot better than what we had in school. Check it out on @Netflix this July 4.
It’s great to be back in my hometown and even better to spend some time with talented young people in Jackson Park. I’m proud of the Wolfpack for a terrific season, and for their leadership off the field as well. Thanks for letting me give a guest pep talk!
This Memorial Day, let’s remember the men and women who sacrificed everything for the people they served with and the country they loved. We owe them all an enormous debt of gratitude.
George Floyd was murdered one year ago today. Since then, hundreds more Americans have died in encounters with police—parents, sons, daughters, friends taken from us far too soon. But the last year has also given us reasons to hope. Today, more people in more places are seeing the world more clearly than they did a year ago. It’s a tribute to all those who decided that this time would be different—and that they, in their own ways, would help make it different. When injustice runs deep, progress takes time. But if we can turn words into action and action into meaningful reform, we will, in the words of James Baldwin, “cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.”
America has always been a work in progress, but each of us has the power to shape this country’s course. This month marks 60 years since young people, including John Lewis, did just that—setting out on two buses from Washington, DC to the South to test the enforcement of Supreme Court rulings on segregation. To mark the anniversary of the Freedom Rides, the @ObamaFoundation spoke with three brave riders—Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Catherine Burks-Brooks, and Luvaghn Brown—who reflected on the moment and what it meant to the broader Civil Rights Movement. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to their story at Obama.org.
The other day I had a chance to visit a COVID-19 vaccination site in Greenbelt, MD. It was great to see so many folks getting their shot. If you need one, sign up today at vaccines.gov. No matter where you live there is a vaccination site near you. And then help us spread the word so we can keep our families and communities safe and get back to all the things we love.
On this Mother’s Day, I want to thank Michelle for being such an incredible mom to our girls. And I hope you’ll take a moment to thank the women in your life who love you in that special way that mothers do: biological moms, adoptive moms, and foster moms; single moms, grandmoms and godmothers; aunts and mentors—all the people who come to mind when you think about Mother’s Day. Or take a moment, like I will, to remember the moms who raised and sustained us, and who we miss every day—no matter how long it’s been. All of these amazing people deserve our gratitude, today and every day.
Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between. He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair. He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.
As a child, Zahrah Hill spent hours watching her mother Renee attend trainings hosted by Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT) to become an electrician. Years later, inspired by her mother, Zahrah completed the same training program, and is now raising kids of her own. As we get ready to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center this fall, we’re proud to work with community organizations that are training talented, hardworking people like Zahrah and Renee on the South and West Sides of Chicago. This Mother’s Day, take a minute to hear their stories and learn how trades are strengthening our communities.
Happy 90th birthday to Willie Mays! I’ll never forget giving Willie a ride on Air Force One to the All-Star game in St. Louis in 2009. Everyone was excited to see Willie—and I was, too. I told Willie that if it hadn’t been for folks like him and Jackie Robinson, I might never have made it to the White House. The spirit he played with and the way he carried himself changed the game and people’s attitudes. I’m glad he’s still going strong.
When you walk into my office, the first thing you see is an American flag signed by the team that carried out the operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, against Osama bin Laden ten years ago today. When I look back ten years later, I’m grateful to the thousands of people across government who made it possible for me to say to the families who had a loved one murdered on September 11 that America had never forgotten their loss. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch my conversation with Admiral McRaven at Obama.org.
I recently joined @Ava and the @LATimes Book Club to talk about A Promised Land. We ended up touching on everything from the civil rights leaders who inspired me to pursue a career in public service, to the values that are important for leadership, to the members of the next generation who give me so much hope for the future. Check out our conversation.
Today is Apportionment Day. States have just learned how many seats they have in Congress for the next decade. This process is an important step in making sure our maps—and electoral process—better reflect our communities. The redistricting process isn’t just about where districts are drawn—it’s also about how many districts are drawn in each state. It’s intended to provide folks with equal and fair representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College, but as we know, map manipulators can often take power away from communities by drawing districts in unfair ways. This year, state legislatures are undertaking this process and will draw new maps that will determine political power through 2031. We must ensure that every single person has equitable representation and that our electoral maps are drawn fairly. Join @AllOnTheLine in their efforts to hold elected leaders accountable and make sure we achieve fair maps this year.
I love wandering into independent bookstores and discovering new voices and new authors. And those bookstores often form the backbone of our communities. That’s why, on Independent Bookstore Day, I wanted to talk with some of the folks who’ve been doing so much for readers and authors across the country.
No challenge poses a greater threat to our planet and to future generations than climate change. That’s why this Earth Day, I’m proud that the @ObamaFoundation is supporting young people who are helping lead this fight, and that we’ve designed the Obama Presidential Center to be sustainable while showing visitors how they can make a difference in their own communities.
Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more. Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, and we stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied.
Charles and @Shaq agree: we can all help end this pandemic by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It's the only way to keep everyone safe and help us get back to all the things we miss most—from seeing family and friends to watching sports in person.
Today, the City of Chicago starts prep work in Jackson Park, marking the beginning of the exciting road to groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Center. Michelle and I hope that the Center will help lift up the South Side and surrounding communities by creating jobs and attracting new visitors—serving as a place where young people can take action and have some fun. Let’s get to work.
Our hearts are heavy over yet another shooting of a Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of police. It’s important to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but this is also a reminder of just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country. You can find resources and ways to help here: obama.org/anguish-and-action
When we first met His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, he and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had already been on the world stage for more than half a century — welcoming leaders like Churchill and Kennedy; Mandela and Gorbachev. As two Americans unaccustomed to palaces and pomp, we didn’t know what to expect. We shouldn’t have worried. The Queen and Prince Philip immediately put us at ease with their grace and generosity, turning a ceremonial occasion into something far more natural, even comfortable. Prince Philip in particular was kind and warm, with a sharp wit and unfailing good humor. It was our first introduction to the man behind the title, and in the years since, our admiration for him has only grown. We will miss him dearly. Like the Queen, Prince Philip saw world wars and economic crises come and go. The radio gave way to the television, and the television to the internet. And through it all, he helped provide steady leadership and guiding wisdom. It has long been said that the United States and Great Britain have a special relationship — one that has been maintained and strengthened not just by presidents and prime ministers but by the Royal Family that has outlasted them all. At the Queen’s side or trailing the customary two steps behind, Prince Philip showed the world what it meant to be a supportive husband to a powerful woman. Yet he also found a way to lead without demanding the spotlight — serving in combat in World War II, commanding a frigate in the Royal Navy, and tirelessly touring the world to champion British industry and excellence. Through his extraordinary example, he proved that true partnership has room for both ambition and selflessness — all in service of something greater. As the world mourns his loss, we send our warmest wishes and deepest sympathies to the Queen, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; and everyone who knew and loved this remarkable man.
Bruce and I closed out our podcast, Renegades: Born in the USA, back where it all began: with a conversation about what it will take to restore faith in America’s promise, and how to tell a new, unifying story about this country that is true to our ideals and honest about where we fall short. It’s not easy to do in these cynical times, but we both believe that story exists—and that folks across the country are hungry for it. Along the way, I tell Bruce about an unlikely gift that a stranger gave me on the campaign trail in Greenwood, South Carolina, and he explains the story behind one of his most popular and misunderstood songs. Listen to our final episode on Spotify.
This Easter, I hope we can all take some time to reflect on the blessings we enjoy and the hope we have for a brighter future. From our family to yours, have a safe and happy Easter.
Bruce @Springsteen and I asked each other a lot of questions on our podcast, Renegades: Born in the USA. But we also wanted to answer some of yours. We got some great ones about music, fatherhood, masculinity, and race. You can check out my answers here.
It’s always great catching up with @IsabelWilkerson, and this time we’re talking about A Promised Land and our mutual love of books with @BarnesandNoble. Take a look:
Bruce @Springsteen and I agree that our most important anchor over the years has been our families. We’re both lucky enough to have strong, independent, partners who challenge and ground us—ultimately helping us become better versions of ourselves. Michelle and Patti have also given us the single greatest gift of our lives: the chance to become fathers. In the latest episode of Renegades: Born in the USA, Bruce and I trade notes on what our wives and kids continue to teach us, the values we want to pass on, the examples we try to set, and the world we want to leave them. Listen to our latest conversation on Spotify.
My family and I are mourning the loss of our beloved grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as “Mama Sarah” but known to us as “Dani” or Granny. Born in the first quarter of the last century, in Nyanza Province, on the shores of Lake Victoria, she had no formal schooling, and in the ways of her tribe, she was married off to a much older man while only a teen. She would spend the rest of her life in the tiny village of Alego, in a small home built of mud-and thatch brick and without electricity or indoor plumbing. There she raised eight children, tended to her goats and chickens, grew an assortment of crops, and took what the family didn’t use to sell at the local open-air market. Although not his birth mother, Granny would raise my father as her own, and it was in part thanks to her love and encouragement that he was able to defy the odds and do well enough in school to get a scholarship to attend an American university. When our family had difficulties, her homestead was a refuge for her children and grandchildren, and her presence was a constant, stabilizing force. When I first traveled to Kenya to learn more about my heritage and father, who had passed away by then, it was Granny who served as a bridge to the past, and it was her stories that helped fill a void in my heart. During the course of her life, Granny would witness epochal changes taking place around the globe: world war, liberation movements, moon landings, and the advent of the computer age. She would live to fly on jets, receive visitors from around the world, and see one of her grandsons get elected to the United States presidency. And yet her essential spirit—strong, proud, hard-working, unimpressed with conventional marks of status and full of common sense and good humor—never changed. We will miss her dearly, but celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life.
Bruce @Springsteen and I hoped that our podcast, Renegades: Born in the USA, would get people talking and thinking about some big issues, and it’s been great to see the discussion about fatherhood and what it means to be a man this past week. If you have questions or reactions about these or any other topics, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer back.
As part of the American Rescue Plan, President Biden just signed the largest expansion of health care since the Affordable Care Act—helping an additional 1.3 million Americans get access to coverage. It’s an example of how government is supposed to work, and exactly what I hoped would happen when I signed the ACA into law 11 years ago today. The Affordable Care Act has helped 20 million Americans get coverage—and up to 130 million Americans can no longer be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. The ACA has also been a lifeline for Americans who have lost their jobs and their health insurance during the pandemic. But I’ve always said that the ACA is like a starter home—it’s our job to keep tinkering with it and improving it over time. And now, thanks to the hard work of President Biden, Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Americans all across the country who have spent years fighting against repeal and pushing to improve the law, our starter home is starting to look pretty spacious. The American Rescue Plan lowers premiums for millions of families, makes health insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income Americans, and provides incentives for states to expand Medicaid and cover as many as four million additional Americans—weaving the law even more tightly into the fabric of America. Now we need to keep it up. Because until every single American has access to quality, affordable health care—we have more work to do, and I’m grateful to President Biden for continuing to lead the fight.
Michelle and I grieve with the families of the victims of the shooting in Boulder, just as we grieve with the families of the people killed in Atlanta and everyone else who has lost a loved one to gun violence. But we’re also feeling a deep, familiar outrage that we as a nation continue to tolerate these random, senseless acts. A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country. It’s time for leaders everywhere to listen to the American people when they say enough is enough.
I didn’t really know my father—he left my mother and me when I was two years old, and only traveled from Kenya to visit us once, when I was ten. That trip was the first and last I saw of him; after that, I heard from him only through the occasional letter, written on thin blue airmail paper that was preprinted to fold and address without an envelope. His short visit had a profound impact on my life. My father gave me my first basketball and introduced me to jazz. But for the most part, the visit left me with more questions than it answered, and I knew I would have to figure out how to be a man on my own. In our latest conversation on Renegades: Born in the USA, Bruce and I explore the topic of masculinity and the influence that our fathers—both flawed role models—had on our lives. We also talk about the message American culture sends to boys about what it means to be a man—a message that too often emphasizes physical toughness over sensitivity; the need to dominate over the ability to love and care for others. Listen now on Spotify.
Like many of you, I’m looking forward to some good games—and a few upsets—in this year’s March Madness tournament. You can check out my picks at obama.org.