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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Obama is traveling to Chicago to give his presidential farewell address, continuing a tradition established by the nation's first president more than two centuries ago. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — LaKeitha Carlos was at home in Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon and decided to check the flights to Chicago, just in case.

A last-minute ticket was only $194.

Carlos took a moment to reflect on how, eight years earlier, she had worked as an organizer in Atlanta to get Barack Obama elected president, marking her start in politics. The wife and mother only briefly considered her choice: Should she drop everything to see the president one last time?

Two hours later, she was on a plane, wearing an Obama T-shirt and overcome with emotion.

As Obama said goodbye and thanked supporters on Tuesday night in his adopted hometown of Chicago, the occasion marked the unofficial countdown to the end of his historic presidency. The first black president’s words resonated across the country for many African-Americans finally able to bask in seeing a family that looked like them in the White House.

After eight years, the era comes to a close in 10 days.

The scene Tuesday was reminiscent of election night in 2008. Then, Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, greeted a cheering crowd in Grant Park in Chicago to claim victory at the end of a campaign run on hope and change. The Obamas were not yet in their 50s; their children, Malia and Sasha, were 10 and 7.

Tonight, he walked out alone. At times during the address, which lasted about an hour, there were shouts of “We love you!” from the crowd, who pleaded for four more years.

“I can’t do that,” Obama answered.

Tickets for Tuesday’s once-in-a-lifetime speech were hard to come by. People waited for hours in the freezing cold Saturday to score seats to see Obama in person.

For Carlos, the nostalgia was powerful and her concern over an uncertain future strong.

“There were a few of us that believed that he could do it,” she recalled ahead of the speech. “To see that come to fruition has been amazing. It’s sad to be here tonight. In a way, it feels anticlimactic.”

Others, like Peggy Montes, chose to stay home and watch.

Montes, founder of the Bronzeville Children’s Museum, said the Democratic president’s mark on her life was personal and professional. She recalled that as an Illinois state legislator Obama helped secure the state funding to start the museum, believed to be the first of its kind for blacks nationwide. Montes was invited to both of Obama’s presidential inaugurations and attended.

The Obamas are now a focal point of an exhibit at the museum greeting visitors as they walk in the door.

Like many in Chicago, Montes said Tuesday’s speech was bittersweet.

“I’m sad because he will be leaving, but I’m also grateful for the fact that he did touch our lives for such a short period of time,” she said. “He came in when the people were in distress. He was able to lift them up.”

Horace Small, executive director of the Boston-based anti-poverty group Union of Minority Neighborhoods, said Obama’s election was a tremendous source of pride for everyone, especially poor and middle-class blacks. But Small said the middle-class blacks benefited more than those battling poverty because Obama didn’t talk more about race and class.

“But poor blacks did benefit from the fact that there was a black man in the White House less than 100 years after we were hanging from trees,” Small said.

Small said Obama failed to mobilize citizens to pursue policies that could have impacted poverty in black communities.

Amy Maldonado, an immigration lawyer based in East Lansing, Michigan, who voted for Obama twice, said she was extremely disappointed in Obama because of his deportation policies and his detention of Central American children. She said that Obama reacted too late to protect some immigrant college students and that activists were forced to sue his administration over a lack of legal representation of detained immigrants.

“I will not be sorry to see this president go,” Maldonado said. “I have no love for this administration.”

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, around three dozen emotional Democratic activists gathered to eat green chile stew and Native American Pueblo bread and watch Obama’s farewell address. Next to the New Mexican food was a box of tissues.

“We’re going to need them,” New Mexico Democratic chair Debra Haaland said.

Minutes into his speech, some activists could be heard sniffling and seen wiping tears. They clapped when Obama mentioned the need to protect immigrants and fighting for economic equality.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican and the nation’s only Latina governor, said it was not her role to assess the presidency of Obama, who rarely visited the state with the country’s largest percentage of Hispanic residents.

“I think that it’s up to the American people and for history to decide on what impact his presidency has had on our country and the world,” Martinez said.

___

Associated Press writers Russell Contreras in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report.

PHOTO: AP

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60 thoughts on “Obamas End A Bittersweet Era For Black Americans

  1. leadjustone on said:

    Beautiful marriage. Beautiful family, and not a hint of personal scandal. Amazing! They make me proud, and I wish them nothing but the best!

  2. Chris states nothing but hard data, FACTS. Call him a troll, whatever, what you are really doing is ignoring the hard truth about Obama’s failures. Those that believe he will have a lasting positive legacy, only believe that because he is black, and he isn’t even that. Sad Peeps.

    • Jackie on said:

      U haven’t seen failure until the nxt 4 yrs of nothing but hypocrisy and incompetence. This new so called prez has so much scandal coming at him it’s going to be hard to keep up with. And the liberals will be laughing all the way to the nxt election in 2 yrs. Obama did the best he could with the racial obstruction he delt with for 8 yrs. dumbass won’t last 4 yrs. He’ll be impeached within 2 yrs. hahaha

      • Jackie, which political party has run Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Ferguson, Camden for the last 60 years?

  3. George on said:

    Man! We’ve got some real haters on line!! Do like prez recommend, when you get tired of arguing on line,meet and talk face to face, it tends to bring out the adult in folks !

    • Because you can’t. You have nothing to support how “great” you think Obama was. You got NADA. It’s very sad that our first AA POTUS will begged in history as the most inept, corrupt, wasteful, subversive, destructive and divisive President ever. A man twice elected because of the color of his skin rather than the content of his character.

      • specialt757 on said:

        @chris
        That’s not what your 15,000 word essay below says as if anyone read that crap. Sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself.

    • specialt757 on said:

      Alberta, I’m pretty sure they didn’t see it as a LOTTA fun. They were under constant public scrutiny and the butt of a lot of memes and jokes. President Obama and his family endured a lot of hate and criticism that they didn’t deserve. I’m also pretty sure most presidents from the past felt that way as well. Being a black American I take it personal because well…he’s our first black president. But I can tell you this, going forward, every other president white, black, orange, purple, etc… will be compared to him. This incoming administration will try to erase his legacy but to no avail, anything they do will come back to haunt them, so I’ll sit back and watch the show, it’s sure to be a doozy.

      • Public scrutiny? Obama and the democrats have over 250 “news” organizations to protect them. I bet you never heard of these:
        Agency Date Description Source
        13 Barack Obama White House 09/11/2001 As recounted in his autobiography, Obama reacted to 9/11 by worrying it might dampen his political career on account of his middle name. The Audacity of Hope
        14 Barack Obama White House 12/09/2008 Before he was even in office, Obama was enmeshed in scandal. He was accused of consorting with then-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich over who would get his Senate seat, although he denied making contact with the governor’s office. However a witness says this wasn’t true, and Obama was pushing for Valerie Jarrett. TIME
        394 U.S. Dept. of Energy 12/12/2008 Obama’s chosen secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, who said he wanted to double, or triple, gas prices. The Wall Street Journal
        686 U.S. Dept. of the Treasury 01/13/2009 Obama’s pick to head the Treasury Department, Tim Geithner, was himself a tax scofflaw. He ended up sending an amended return upon being nominated. Forbes
        442 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 02/03/2009 Obama’s first pick for HHS, Tom Daschle, quit after it was revealed he hadn’t paid all of his taxes; Obama, however, had urged him to remain. NBC News
        608 U.S. Dept. of State 03/07/2009 Obama’s secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, gave her Russian counterparts a symbolic “reset” button written in Russian, but which actually translated to “overloaded.” BBC
        15 Barack Obama White House 03/18/2009 When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited the White House, Obama gave him a bunch of DVDs as a gift (worse: they were in the wrong format). The Daily Telegraph
        16 Barack Obama White House 03/24/2009 Despite running on a promise to go through the budget “line by line” to cut wasteful spending, Obama quadrupled the deficit in his first year of office. The Heritage Foundation
        395 U.S. Dept. of Energy 03/24/2009 Despite receiving a warning from a donor not to do so, Obama visited Solyndra, touting it as a model for government-driven clean energy/job creation. The company laid off its entire workforce less than a year later. The Washington Post
        17 Barack Obama White House 04/07/2009 Obama seemed to think Austrians speak “Austrian” The Washington Post
        18 Barack Obama White House 04/15/2009 When one of his staffers referred to the pope as a “discredited leader,” Obama refused to say if he agreed. CNS News
        19 Barack Obama White House 04/17/2009 After enduring hours of anti-American speeches from crackpot South American leaders at the 2009 Summit of the Americas conference, Obama said … nothing. Bloomberg
        20 Barack Obama White House 04/19/2009 When the Grateful Dead was in D.C. for a show, Obama made sure they paid him a secret visit in the Oval Office. The Washington Post
        21 Barack Obama White House 04/19/2009 After Iran convicted an American journalist in a sham trial, the Obama White House was mute. Yahoo News
        540 U.S. Dept. of Justice 04/23/2009 Obama’s DoJ launched investigations into Bush Administration officials over interrogation techniques that led to the killing of Bin Laden. The Wall Street Journal
        185 Federal Aviation Authority 04/28/2009 The Obama Administration arranged a photo shoot of Air Force One directly above the New York City skyline; the site of the large aircraft sent New Yorkers running for their lives, believing it another terror attack. Schumer called it “cruel or very, very stupid.” The Media Research Center
        280 Judiciary 04/30/2009 Obama nominated David Hamilton, infamous for his rulings favoring sex offenders, to the 7th Court of Appeals. Front Page Mag
        523 U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security 05/05/2009 Obama’s DHS authored a report suggesting conservatives are potential anti-American terrorists. The Washington Times
        600 U.S. Dept. of Labor 05/18/2009 Obama’s DoL scrapped its own rules requiring transparency with union spending as they were too effective exposing fraud. Investors Business Daily
        687 U.S. Dept. of the Treasury 05/21/2009 In “saving” the auto industry, Obama forced out the companies’ rightful owners — public pensioners like teachers and firemen, who unsuccessfully sued. The Competitive Enterprise Institute
        701 U.S. Dept. of Transportation 05/22/2009 Obama imposed expensive new tailpipe emissions rules that resulted in Americans driving older, dirtier cars. The Wall Street Journal
        688 U.S. Dept. of the Treasury 06/10/2009 In “saving” the auto industry, Obama forced out the companies’ rightful owners — public pensioners like teachers and firemen, who unsuccessfully sued. Human Events
        443 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 06/18/2009 Polls showed Americans hated ObamaCare even more than HillaryCare Pew Research Center
        702 U.S. Dept. of Transportation 07/01/2009 Obama launched the “cash for clunkers,” which aimed to replace existing cars with newer, cleaner cars, but ended up incentivizing the destruction of thousands of perfectly good used cars, thus pricing millions of Americans out of the market. Wikipedia
        356 U.S. Dept. of Defense 07/08/2009 Obama negotiated the START Treaty with Russia, which triumphed Russia reducing a nuclear stockpile it was planning on discarding anyway. The Wall Street Journal
        357 U.S. Dept. of Defense 07/08/2009 The START Treaty committed the U.S. to reduce its number of launchers to match Russia; Russia wasn’t require to reduce any of its launchers. The Wall Street Journal
        358 U.S. Dept. of Defense 07/08/2009 The START Treaty left Russia with a 10-1 nuclear weapons tactical advantage. The Wall Street Journal
        22 Barack Obama White House 07/09/2009 Breaking a decades long precedent, Obama happily met with then-Libya dictator Muammar Gaddafi at a G8 Summit. Tripoli Post
        10 AmeriCorps 07/10/2009 After AmeriCorps’ Inspector General uncovered corruption in the office of an Obama ally, Sacramento’s major Kevin Johnson, Obama fired the IG. The Washington Times
        11 AmeriCorps 07/10/2009 In firing AmeriCorps’ IG for doing his job too effectively, Obama broke a law that he as a senator sponsored. The Washington Examiner
        444 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 07/10/2009 ObamaCare amendments that would have banned rationing health care were blocked. The Daily Signal
        703 U.S. Dept. of Transportation 07/14/2009 Obama’s “car czar” intentionally shut down thousands of car dealerships. The Wall Street Journal
        347 U.S. Dept. of Commerce 07/17/2009 Obama’s secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, said Americans “need to pay” for Chinese emissions The Wall Street Journal
        445 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 07/20/2009 Obama sought to repeal (outside of Congress) ERISA, a law ensuring large companies can manage their employees under one set of rules, as opposed to 50. The Wall street Journal
        23 Barack Obama White House 07/21/2009 After committing to cut a mere $100 million in spending in 90 days (around 1/10th of 1 percent of the budget), Obama missed his deadline. CNN
        446 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 07/21/2009 Obama touted the Mayo Clinic as an example of what ObamaCare can accomplish; the Mayo Clinic trashed ObamaCare. The Washington Times
        24 Barack Obama White House 07/22/2009 Despite admitting “not having all the facts,” Obama said a Boston police officer “acted stupidly” when arresting a professor who resisted questions while the officer responded to a 911 call. Obama later said he regretted his comments. Wikipedia
        447 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 07/22/2009 Obama regularly claimed 47 millions were insured while pitching ObamaCare. The real number was closer to 8 million. The American Spectator
        609 U.S. Dept. of State 07/27/2009 At the request of Cuba, Obama’s State Dept. turned off a Havana billboard that broadcast pro-freedom messages. The New York Times
        448 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 07/28/2009 Americans lost five specific freedoms with ObamaCare (freedom to choose what’s in your plan; the freedom to be rewarded for living a health life; the freedom to choose high-deductible coverage; the freedom to keep your existing plan, and the freedom to choose your doctors). Fortune
        25 Barack Obama White House 07/29/2009 Despite publicly asking federal agencies to look for places to cut costs, Obama arranged a massive spending boost for a legal aid agency whose own inspector general accused it of wasting money on goodies for its execs. The Washington Times
        541 U.S. Dept. of Justice 07/29/2009 Obama’s DoJ threatened Oklahoma not to pass a law making English the state’s official language. The Oklahoman
        610 U.S. Dept. of State 07/29/2009 Obama’s State Dept. canceled the visas of Honduras’ de facto government, thus helping clear the way for a Chavez/Castro ally to assume power. The Washington Post
        533 U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development 08/17/2009 HUD engages in racism and social engineering, as seen with its lawsuit compelling Westchester County to build certain numbers of homes for certain races. The Wall Street Journal
        26 Barack Obama White House 08/24/2009 Obama tried turning 9/11 into some kind of national holiday for liberalism. The American Spectator
        542 U.S. Dept. of Justice 08/27/2009 Obama’s DoJ helped a political ally — Gov. Bill Richardson — by killing a probe. Fox News
        543 U.S. Dept. of Justice 10/20/2009 Obama’s DoH overturned a legitimate North Carolina vote that ended the use of party ID in local elections because it was thought to potentially hurt Democrats. The Washington Times
        359 U.S. Dept. of Defense 11/09/2009 When Afghanistan was falling apart and debate simmered over what course to take, Obama dithered, waiting several months to weigh in. Fox News
        281 Judiciary 11/19/2009 Obama nominated Louis Butler, who Wisconsin voters twice voted off the state Supreme Court after weakening laws against frivilous lawsuits, to a federal district court. The Wall Street Journal
        This is only the first year. Ignore the first numbers, the dates are in the front, the source is at the end of each “non” scandals and gaffes

    • They had a lot of fun. $85 million in vacations paid by people who work and pay taxes. Michelle had a staff of 70 people, she wore $12,000 dresses. How many $12,000 dresses do you own?

      • Jackie on said:

        Ur jealous bc ur prez is rocked with scandals and he hasn’t even been inaugurated. He thinks he’s going to have s huge showing at his fake inauguration. They will compare his crowd size to Obama’s. It won’t compare. He has unfavorables in the 30s. Obama’s is 55%. That says it all.

  4. americanize on said:

    The first black prez,will go down in history as nothing but symbolism.for black people,nothing more.He said racism is not as bad as it used to be,well mr. president its still racism,the pain is still the same.

  5. specialt757 on said:

    I also got from his speech that he doesn’t want us to settle for things we think may be on the horizon. There are a lot of scared people out here, not just black folks, and when he said to try to see things from other’s eyes or perspective, he was right. But we should continue to stand up and keep contacting our senators and congressmen and hold their feet to the fire when it comes to the issues that affect us the most. We don’t have to settle and we shouldn’t. Don’t look at the next four years as a doomed situation, look it as an opportunity to rise above and do what you need to do to make our lives successful. We have an uphill battle but staying focus and fighting back is the only way to win. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up, we can win.

  6. SN: First, I want to say good job everyone, you did something that’s tough for me to do, ignore ignorance.
    I’m going to hate to see this family go, I wish them nothing but joy and happiness. The part of his speech where he gave praise to his wife and daughters was very telling and touching. He is a man of great character and will be truly missed.

  7. For those that have never seen ‘Southside With You’ this would be a perfect time to view it by renting, or buying the DVD. It’s the story of their first (unofficial) date. Do I have skin in this game as in money…..NO…… I just think it’s a compelling story as to how their love began.

  8. Obama was the best and simply spoke truth to power. His farewell speech had something for everyone, every American and if you couldn’t relate to that, are you a American? God bless you and your family Mr president and thanks for the memories!!

  9. STOPTHEKILLINGS on said:

    OBAMA WAS A GREAT PRESIDENT AND HE WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY. AND HE WILL TRULY BE MISSED WHEN THE DEVIL TRUMP GETS THRU WITH THIS COUNTRY. NO MORE HEALTHCARE FOR THOSE WHO HAD NONE TO BEGIN WITH-BANISHED. NO WAGE INCREASED-DONE… NO MORE PUBLIC HOUSING, THAT IGNORANT BLACK FOOL WHO WAS RAISED THERE, BEN CARSON-JUST PLAIN STUPID. COMPANIES GETTING BIG TAX BREAKS AND MAKING THE GOVERNMENT PAY THEM TO STAY HERE- CRIPPLING THE ECONOMY… COAL JOBS-THEY LAUGHING AT THIS ONE..LOL.. OH YOU ARE GONNA FEEL THE WRATH. AND FOR THOSE WHO KEEP SAYING HE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING FOR THE BLACK PEOPLE, IF HE AND HIS FAMILY WERE NOT A SHINING EXAMPLE OF WHAT HARD WORK, LOVE, AND DETERMINATION CAN DO, THEN YOU DESERVE TO BE IN YOUR MESSED UP SITUATION. THE REPUBLICANS WERE NEVER GONNA LET HIM DO A DAMN THING FOR BLACK PEOPLE, OR HELL ANY PEOPLE AS LONG AS HAD A SAY. GET UP AND GET IT YOURSELF. STOP BEING LAZY AND WANTING SOME ONE TO GET IT FOR YOU….WE LOVE YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA…..THANKS FOR ALL YOU DID….

  10. STOPTHEKILLINGS on said:

    U ARE SOME KINDA CRAZY, AND A RACIST YOURSELF I MUST ADD. THE BIGGEST RACIST IN THE WORLD HAS BEEN ELECTED AS THE NEW PRESIDENT. I CERTAINLY HOPE HE LIVES UP TO ALL THAT WILL BE GOOD FOR ALL OF US, BUT I THINK NOT. AND IT WILL BE SMALL MINDED PEOPLE SUCH AS YOURSELF WHO WILL LOSE AND THEN BE MAD AT HIM. WHILE HE WILL JUST LAUGH IN YOUR FACE WHILE HE FUCKS UP OUR COUNTRY. YOU DEAR SHORT DICK NO LIFE HAVING PETER WILL BE FOREVER LIVING IN YOUR DRUNK MOTHERS BASEMENT. CARRY ON POOR PITIFUL FULL. THE REAL PRESIDENT WILL BE LEAVING WHILE THE DEVIL COMES TO GET YOUR SOUL. OH WAIT A MINUTE, YOU DON’T HAVE A SOUL….BYE FOOL…

  11. Regarding poverty……can we keep it real, and acknowledge that (unfortunately) there will always be poverty in the world. Is that ok, or the way it should be……H to the nall….but it is what it is. Somehow the so-called problem solvers haven’t figured out how to end poverty. Also, less us not forget the 1%-ers that have the majority of the wealth in the world, and always will. Again it is what it is. According to the above article (some) people aren’t happy with President Obama’s over immigration stance. Guess what people…..Newsflash….NO PRESIDENT can solve all of the world’s problems by themselves.

      • Jackie on said:

        1.5million auto jobs saved (2) unemployment down from 10% to 4.7% (3) 20millon more have healthcare (4) 401k is up (5) gas prices are down to $2.35 from $40. And he brought class and dignity to the White House. U voted for a con artis I. Cheif. You own him and his flaws

    • specialt757 on said:

      One thing is for certain Terri, there will always be poor people. Our government will always see to it that there is the poor among us. Our job is not to be a part of them.

  12. Regarding the above article: What an Era it was. Love you Mr. President, and what you stand for. (Some) people say he should have talked more about race, and class early on. Well…..we all know how that would have turned out (we already had people saying he was race baiting anytime he brought up race)…actually the man wasn’t going to totally win on bringing up the race card. I think Obama knew that if he talked a lot about race he would be shut down.If he says something about race people say he flaming the fire, if he doesn’t say anything then he’s weak. Over the years I’ve learned that you can never satisfy everyone.

  13. BlacFam,
    I appreciate your post and agree. However, the I am not praising President Obama. He did just what every other president did use BF’s for their vote. No president has ever done anything for BF’s, and he followed suit. Who benefitted from his policies? He never once stepped foot in Black Communities or did anything to encourage the communities, but he didn’t have a problem with giving them a rung lashing. But when it was a white community he went there hugging and comforting people. If he was able to run again I wouldn’t vote for him

    • Barb: Sooooo you need someone to hold your hands, and personally guide you through life? That’s the way you are coming across. President Obama was not perfect (none of us are); but I’ve always SMH when people say he doesn’t do anything for the Black community. So please explain EXACTLY what you expected him to do(?) People have talked minimum wage, (some) people have said he could have done more about jobs, etc. (I’ll digress on the jobs story bc it’s an complicated issue) For me he set an example by just being a visible source. I’m a self sustaining person so I don’t need someone to hold my hand. I’ve had a great work career……and it’s because I’m a competent person, I chose right from wrong, and didn’t depend on ANY PRESIDENT to guide me through life. First, and foremost guidance comes from our parents.

  14. 2strong on said:

    To BlacFam…..I understand your “hints” in your questions, but nonetheless, it was refreshing to see an American Black Family, for a change

  15. It was AWESOME to have the Obama’s in the WH for the past eight years.

    Wonderful to see their beautiful daughters grow up and mature into the young ladies they have become.

    A sense of pride to see this family of color inspiring all of us to do better-showing us that the sky is our only limit.

    May God bless the Obama’s on their next journey, whatever, it may be!!!!!!!

  16. BlacFam on said:

    Two things the Obamas showed us. They showed us black on black love. A black brother loving a black sister. He called her his “best friend”. They showed us the existence of a black family and what a black family can consist of….a mother AND a father. Did black folks learned anything from this? Did it “rub off”?

    • “They showed us the existence of a black family and what a black family can consist of”. Really BlackFam? You didn’t know that there were any complete black family units in existence? You had no idea that they could “consist” of a mother and a father, until you saw the Obamas? I’d like the know the address of the very large boulder you’ve been living under your whole life.

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