President Barack Obama has kept a surprisingly low profile in the first months of the Trump administration. Sure, he spoke out in defense of the Affordable Care Act and DACA, which Trump has repeatedly threatened. However, sensing that voices are quickly lost in the echo chamber of contemporary politics, Obama has used his sparingly. This week, however, he released a statement meant to inspire young leaders.
“Show up. Dive in. Persevere,” he said on Wednesday, as he hosted a leadership conference in his political hometown of Chicago. Obama began his political career in local Chicago politics, and eventually in the Illinois state legislature.
“Democracy is a job for all of us. What are you going to do about it?” Obama writes. “I’ve never been more certain that we’ll rise to the occasion — together.”
“We read your letters, your emails, and your submissions to Obama.org. I sat down with young people from Chicago to Berlin to Jakarta to hear directly from the future leaders we want to cultivate,” he continues, in a video message. “And what makes me so hopeful and optimistic is that so many of you have shown up, dived in, and embraced the kind of active citizenship that makes our democracy work.”
Obama’s foundation, aside from offering leadership training, will also continue the My Brother’s Keeper mentorship program that he and his wife began while they were in the White House. David Simas, the CEO of the foundation, announced that these initiatives are just the start for President Obama, who hopes to leave a lasting impact in his Chicago community. His foundation will be based in the presidential library that is currently getting built there in his honor.
“From leaders who are already making an impact, to people who are interested in becoming more involved, but don’t know where to start, our goal is to make our programs accessible to anyone, anywhere, with any background or level of experience,” Simas said. “This is only the beginning — our programs will grow as we continue to listen and learn.”