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Watch President Barack Obama’s farewell speech in Chicago (+ Full Text)

Obama: ‘yes we did’
Obama calls on citizens to have faith in the country.

“I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours,” he says.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes We Can

Yes We Did

“You changed the world,” says Obama, as he pays tribute to his staff. He thanks them, many are wiping away tears.

“I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started,” he adds.

Yes We Can.


Obama thanks the crowd and is greeted by his family and the Bidens.

Now Obama pays tribute to his veep Joe Biden.

“The scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best,” says Obama, while the crowd gives Biden a standing ovation. He calls Biden a “brother” and “like family”.

Now Obama turns to the daughters (Malia is in the audience, Sasha is not).

“You have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad,” says Obama.

Now Obama is getting onto the personal thank yous. He simply says the word “Michelle”, and the crowd erupts and gives the first lady a standing ovation.

“Girl of the South Side,” he says, as Michelle raises her fist.

“For the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor,” says Obama, getting out a white handkerchief and wiping away tears.

Obama: ‘run for office yourself’
Obama talks about being an active citizen and being political as part of your every day life, particularly if you’re frustrated by politics right now.

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talking with one of them in real life,” says Obama. “If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”

“Show up. Dive in. Stay at it. Sometimes you will win, sometimes you will lose.”

In what he calls his “final point”, to cheers of “no!” from the audience, Obama speaks about the precarious nature of democracy.

“All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions,” says Obama.

“Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make.”

As Senate hearings continue into Russia’s hacking of the DNC emails during the election campaign – and Trump applauds leader Vladimir Putin – Obama specifically calls Russia a “rival”.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

“I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans,” says Obama, to thunderous applause and cheers.

“No foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years,” says Obama, although he notes the issue of home-grown terrorists such as the Boston marathon bombing and San Bernandino massacre.

“To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief,” he says, resulting in a standing ovation.

Obama on climate change
The president talks about climate change and the steps his administration has taken in the last eight years: reducing dependence on foreign oil, increasing renewable energies, signing the Paris Accord.

He calls on the nation to not ignore science.

“But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary,” says Obama.

“Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.”

“Politics is a battle of ideas. That’s how democracy was designed,” says Obama.

“But without some common baseline of facts. Without a willingness to admit new information and that your opponent might be making a fair point and that science and reason matter, then we’re doing to keep talking past each other. And it will make common ground and compromise impossible,” he says.

Obama continues to talk about race and the divisions in American, getting huge cheers from the thousands in the audience.

He quotes Attitcus Finch from Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Obama continues, specifically identifying groups that were often topics of political discussions during the 2016 election:

For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.

Obama: post-racial America was ‘never realistic’
Obama, the country’s first black president and son of a Kenyan immigrant, discusses race and immigration.

“After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, you see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum,” he says.

“But we’re not where we need to be.

“All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce.”

He spoke about hiring practices and discrimination in housing .

Obama on Obamacare
In a week where the GOP is actively trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act – and president-elect Trump calls on it to happen as quickly as possible – Obama talks about healthcare. He notes that the uninsured rate is lower and health care costs rising tat the slowest rate in 50 years.

“If anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it,” he says

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