January 24th, 2017

The president’s thoughts in this video come from a series of interviews—‘The Filter…Is Powerful’: Obama on Race, Media, and What It Took to Win; ‘Better Is Good’: Obama on Reparations, Civil Rights, and the Art of the Possible; ‘It’s What We Do More Than What We Say’: Obama on Race, Identity, and the Way Forward; and ‘Surprised Like Everybody Else’: Obama on the Election of Donald Trump—conducted between 27 September and 17 November of last year by Ta-Nehisi Coates for his Atlantic Magazine cover story: My President Was Black—A history of the first African American White House—and of what came next.

Coates is on my very short list of writers I admire and he captures in a number of interviews with President Obama conducted over several months what I consider to be an exit interview of deep insight. I printed out copies of the this piece (which runs some 17,000 words, a long read for many) to share with several of my students who, I think, will benefit from President Obama’s reflections and Coates’ writing.

Reading the piece I kept thinking: President Obama, who leaves office at the age of 55 (only two month younger than my next oldest brother) has great achievements to follow. There will be a book first, but I expect that like President Jimmy Carter, who left office at the age of 57, Obama will go on to have a far more spectacular and productive life after his presidency than he did during his eight years in office.

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