(CBS) — President Barack Obama marked the coming end of his two terms in office Tuesday with a farewell address given in Chicago, the city where he launched his political career.
In a nearly hour-long speech that was at once rousing and reflective, Obama called on Americans to reject division, roll up their sleeves, and not lose faith in democracy.
He received an enthusiastic welcome from 20,000 people who gathered at McCormick Place.
“Hello, Chicago, it’s good to be home,” Obama said.
As the president noted, Chicago is where it all began for him, where his view of grass-roots politics was shaped.
“This is where I learned change only comes when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged and they come together to demand it. After eight years as your president, I still believe that,” Obama said.
He took some time to revel in his accomplishments, stabilizing the economy from near-depression, growing jobs, and, yes, Obamacare.
The bulk of the speech was a clarion call to action and a rejection of fear and division.
“Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions,” he said.
The president came near to tears when he thanked the occupant of the White House that may even be more popular than him: first lady Michelle Obama.
He closed by saying, “Yes, we can. Yes, we did. Yes, we can.”
The president left Chicago Tuesday on what the White House calls his 445th mission aboard Air Force One – and his last.
Republican Donald Trump will succeed Obama after defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November presidential election.