By Dru Barcelo
Barack Hussein Obama II, the first African American President, served two terms—eight years of service to the American people. Despite this being his last month in office, he accomplished plenty before the end of his term.
For the past year, President Obama has been working to ensure himself a lasting legacy in the White House and in the nation. In his time, Obama garnered several accomplishments from opening trade and tourism with Cuba for the first time in 50 years, to the signing of the Paris Agreement— the first UN negotiation in over 20 years that aims for climate change.
However, many of his actions resulted in a lot of criticism.
Since taking office eight years ago, Obama has said he would close the Guantanamo military prison, but failed to do so. He claimed that his focus would be on granting more pardons before he leaves office. Staying true to this promise he pardoned Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera as of January 17, 2016.
In the midst of his final week, he has repealed “wet foot, dry foot,” receiving both praise and anger, and worked with his administration for Trump’s transition. There’s not much Obama can do, however, about the changes coming to ObamaCare— a prominent part of his presidency.
His farewell speech was held in Chicago, Illinois, the first place on the victory campaign for his election, ending where it all started. On Tuesday night, Obama made it clear that he plans to be quite vocal on issues from illegal immigration, replacing ObamaCare, climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal, if he feels the necessity.
He also referred to the Founding Fathers and the concept of a more perfect union and a republic defined by generational embraces of American exceptionalism. He will continue to acknowledge the the current “state of democracy,” believing that Americans need to set aside their differences for the good of the nation’s solidarity.
Obama also addressed the elephant in the room, touching on the topic of race, calling on white Americans to better understand minority’s struggles with equality and calling on minorities learning to better appreciate white struggles due to a changing economy.
These last months were nothing short of stressful for Obama. His presidential legacy is coming to a close, making history as the first African American president, as he passes the torch.
“We all have to try harder,” he said. “We’re going to be okay.”