He’s winding down – but he’s still fired up.
President Barack Obama, after nearly eight years in the White House, will deliver his final State of the Union Address Tuesday.
In his last year in the White House, Obama will spend the next 11 months energized and pushing hard for the legislative policies he believes will uplift all Americans.
For many African-Americans, Obama will be missed. Black Americans from coast to coast have become accustomed to seeing their first Black president speaking in the Rose Garden, or talking to reporters in the White House briefing room, or waving to supporters as he boards Air Force One.
It’s been a rocky tenure for Obama at times. Still, he’s accomplished a great deal despite the constant pushback from Republicans who have stonewalled him and blocked much of his legislative agenda.
No matter what the president has proposed, Republicans have criticized it, picked it apart, and broke many of the olive branches Obama tried to offer.
So now, seven years later, America’s first Black president will stand before the nation on Tuesday and offer a message of hope as Americans are still struggling with concerns about unemployment and adjusting to a new normal: repeated terrorist threats and a heightened sense of insecurity in an uncertain world.
On Tuesday, inside the U.S. Capitol, Obama is expected to talk about gun violence prevention and the series of steps he took last week to help reduce gun violence in America and make our communities safer.
Obama also announced that “one seat in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box will be left empty for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice – because they need the rest of us to speak for them.”
But the First Lady has also graciously invited two celebrated African-Americans to her box for the State of the Union Address. These are extraordinary black folks who the Obamas would like to honor in a very public way — the last time Black guests will sit in a box reserved for Michelle Obama, the nation’s first Black First Lady.
One of them is Earl Smith, who met President Obama in an Austin hotel in February 2008, where he was operating an elevator. On the last day, Smith gave Obama a military patch that he had worn while serving with an artillery brigade in Vietnam that had sustained 10,041 casualties and received 13 Medals of Honor. Smith had kept the patch — embroidered with a screaming eagle — with him for 40 years. Obama carried it in his pocket for the rest of the campaign; he now keeps it in a box in his Chicago home and plans to donate it to his presidential library.
The other guest is Edith Childs. In June of 2007, Childs, a former Greenwood, South Carolina City Council member, motivated a group of just 38 supporters in South Carolina with the call-and-response “Fired up! Ready to go!”, which became an official campaign chant motivating supporters around the country.
Following his seventh and final State of the Union Address, the President will continue the tradition of engaging directly with Americans across the country about the opportunities that lie ahead. This year, President Obama will travel to two new communities he has yet to visit during his presidency.
On Wednesday, January 13th, the President will travel to the Omaha, Nebraska area and on Thursday, January 14th, he will travel to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area. In both places, he will highlight the progress he’s made there and across the country and discuss how he can continue taking action in the next year to help hardworking Americans get ahead.
So Obama isn’t going out as a lame-duck president. He’s still aggressively advocating for policies that will empower and uplift all Americans and he’s starting 2016 with a forward-thinking State of the Union Address.
The president has 11 months left in office. My guess is that he’ll work hard to make every day count.
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