Former President Barack Obama sent a message of gratitude to young people of color, who have “witnessed too much violence and too much death,” and said their activism has been a source of hope for him.
“I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter,” Obama said in a livestream of a roundtable hosted by My Brother’s Keeper, an organization he launched in 2014, on Wednesday evening. “You should be able to learn and make mistakes and live a life of joy without having to worry about what’s going to happen when you walk to the store or go for a jog or are driving down the street or are looking at some birds in a park.”
It’s not the first time that Obama has remarked publicly on the nationwide protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, signaling a level of engagement that is unusual for a former president.
He wrote an essay on Medium earlier this week contemplating how the current protests could galvanize real change. He condemned the few protesters who have resorted to violence — including breaking store windows and setting fires — urging them to instead set an example for how American society should operate and clearly articulate their demands, a message he repeated Wednesday evening.