Obama Says U.S. Leadership Isn't 'Even Pretending To Be In Charge'

Obama Says U.S. Leadership Isn’t ‘Even Pretending To Be In Charge’ During Commencement Speech

May 16, 2020 Updated May 17, 2020

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Barack Obama takes aim at Trump administration during commencement address on Saturday

Barack Obama delivered not one, but two, commencement speeches on Saturday, May 16, 2020 (and is set to give another next month), and although he did dole out inspirational verses to the graduating class of 2020, he also took aim at the “folks in charge” and how they’ve handled the coronavirus pandemic, telling the next generation that it’s up to them if the U.S. is going to recover from our current political reality.

Speaking at the “Show Me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition,” where he spoke directly to students at 78 historically black colleges and universities across the country, Obama told the graduating class that “this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Though he didn’t mention Trump by name, it’s hard not to connect the dots. However, Obama’s address wasn’t just a dig at the current administration, he said what he did to inspire our nation’s young people to dream big because power really is anyone’s for the taking.

“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you,” Obama added. “With everything suddenly feeling like it’s up for grabs, this is your time to seize the initiative.”

Obama echoed these sentiments in his second address of the day during the LeBron James-hosted “Graduate Together 2020″ special, reminding graduates that the “people in charge don’t have the right answers, sometimes they aren’t even asking the right questions,” hoping that it would inspire young people to reach out and claim leadership positions for themselves, to vote, to campaign, to march, and to ultimately change the world.

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I couldn’t be prouder of this year’s graduating high school seniors––as well as the teachers, coaches, and most of all, parents and family who’ve guided you along the way. Graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances––let alone during a pandemic. And some of you have had to overcome serious obstacles along the way to make it here. What remains true is that your graduation marks your passage into adulthood––the time when you begin to take charge of your own life. ⁣ ⁣ So here’s my quick advice: Be fearless. Always do what you think is right. And work to build a community. No one does big things all by themselves. When you need help, Michelle and I have made it the mission of the @ObamaFoundation to give young people like you the skills and support you need to be leaders—and to connect you with other young people around the globe. But you don’t need us to tell you what to do, because in so many ways, you’ve already shown us how it’s done. Congratulations, Class of 2020––keep making us proud.⁣

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Although so many of us look to the 44th president of the United States for guidance during the chaos of the Trump administration, Obama pointed to the class of 2020 as our way into the future. From the Parkland teens to Greta Thunberg, the next generation has already stepped up to change the future.

“The truth is,” Obama said during the ‘Graduate Together’ ceremony. “You don’t need us to know what to do, in so many ways, you’ve already started to lead.”