tv Former President Obama Makes First Public Remarks Since Leaving Office CSPAN April 25, 2017 2:59pm-4:25pm EDT
know. don't blame your teacher, don't try to withdraw your shoutout. there's going to be questions that you miss. we all do. do your best. and if you don't know the answer, make it a good guess. don't leave it blank. think less, ink more, but if you blank on something like i blanked on blanket primary, go back to what you do know. use those context clues. you studied hard, worked harr, your teach verse prepped you well. so use those context clues, take a deep breath and problem solve. >> the annual cram for the exam is fun and informative. join us sunday, april 30, at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> former president barack obama spoke yesterday with a panel gathered at the university of chicago to discuss civic engagement and activism. it was his first official public appearance since leaving office in january. this is about an hour and a
university of chicago. it's wonderful to be on the south side of chicago and it's wonderful to be with these young people here and what i want to do is just maybe speak very briefly at the top about why we're here and then i want to spend most of the time that we're together hearing from these remarkable young people who are i think representative of some amazing young people who were in the audience as well. was telling these guys that it was a little over 30 years ago that i came to chicago. i had years old and gotten out of college filled th idealism and absolutely certain that i was going to change the world. but [laughter] i had no idea how.
or where or what ways going to be doing. so i worked first to pay off some student loans. and then i went to work at the city colleges of new york on their harlem campus with some student organizing and then there were a group of churches out on the south side who had come together to try to deal with the steel plants that had closed in the area and the economic devastation that had been taken place but also the racial tensions and turnover that was happening in these communities and so they had formed an organization. they hired me as what was called a community organizer and did i not really know what that meant. or how to do it but i accepted the job and for the next three years -- i lived right here in hyde park but i worked further south in communities like
oseland and west palm. working class neighborhoods many of which had changed in ly from white to black the late 1960's, 1970's, and full of wonderful people who were proud of their communities, proud of the steps they had taken to try to move into the middle class but were also worried about their futures because in some cases their kids weren't doing as well as they had. in some cases these communities had been badly neglected for a very long time. the distribution of city services were unequal. schools were underfunded. there was a lack of opportunity. and for three years i tried to do something about it and i am the first to acknowledge that i did not set the world on fire.
[laughter] nor did i transform these communities in any significant way although we did some good things. but it did change me. this community gave me a lot more than i was able to give in return. because this community taught when ordinary people working together can do extraordinary things. this community taught me that everybody has a story to tell, that is important. is experience taught me that beneath the surface of differences of people there were common hopes and common dreams and common aspirations, common values that stitched us together as americans.
so even though i after three years left for law school, the lessons that had been taught to me here as organizer are ones that stayed with me and effectively gave me the foundation for my subsequent political career and the themes that i would talk about as a state legislator and as a u.s. senator and ultimately as president of the united states. now, i tell you that history because on the back end now of my presidency, now that it's completed, i'm spending a lot of time thinking about, what is the most important thing i can job. my next
[laughter] convinced of is that although there are all kinds of issues that i care about and all kinds of issues that i intend to work on, the single most important thing i can do is to help in any way i can prepare the next generation of leadership, to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world. because the one thing that i'm absolutely convinced of is that, yes, we confront a whole range of challenges from economic inequality and lack of opportunity to a criminal justice system that too often is skewed in ways that are unproductive, to climate
change, to issues related to violence. all those problems are serious, they're daunting but they're not unsoluble. what's preventing us from tackling them and making more progress really has to do with our politics and our civic life. it has to do with the fact that because of things like political jerry mannedering -- gerrymandering our parties have moved further and further apart and it's harder and harder to find common ground. because of money in politics. special interests dominate the debates in washington in ways hat don't match up with what the broad majority of americans
feel. because of changes in the media, we now have a situation in which everybody's listening to people who already agree with them and are further and further from enforcing their own realities to the neglect of a common reality that allows us to have a healthy debate and then try to find common ground and actually move solutions forward. 2004 that i said in there were no red states or blue states, they are a united states of america. that was an aspirational comment, but i think it's [laughter] and it's one, by the way, that i still believe in the sense when you talk to individuals there's a eople --
lot more people have in common than divides them, but obviously it's not true when it comes to our politics and our civic life. and maybe more pernicious is the fact that people just aren't involved. they get cynical and they give up and as a consequence we have e of the lowest voting rates in democracy and a further gap between who's governing us and what we believe. the only folks who are going to be able to solve that problem are going to be young people, the next generation. and i have been encouraged everywhere i go in the united states and also everywhere around the world to see how harp and astute and tolerant and thoughtful and
entrepreneurial our young people are. a lot more sophisticated than i was at their age. and so the question then becomes, what are the ways in which we can create pathways for them to take leadership, for them to get involved? are there ways in which we can knock down some of the barriers that are discouraging young people about a life of service? and if there are, i want to work with them to knock down those barriers and to get this next generation to accelerate their move towards leadership. because if that happens, i think we're going to be just fine. i end up being incredibly optimistic. so with that, what i'd like to do is to have our panelists
here today each tell them -- tell us a little bit about themselves and what i've asked them ahead of time -- i did give them the question ahead of time -- i asked them to describe for me what it is that they see among their peers that they think discourages voting participation, paying attention to some of the issues, getting involved, do they have some immediate suggestions of the kinds of things that would get young people more involved and engaged and discover their voices? once we've gone through the entire panel, then we're going to open it up and see how it works and hopefully it will be interesting. [laughter] i'll find it interesting. hopefully you find it interesting. all right. so we're going to start with kelsey. kelsey: well, thank you, mr.
president and good morning, everyone. it's an absolute honor to be with you all. i'm auto senior at loyola university, chicago, where i spent the last four years studying marketing. i've had the pleasure of being very involved on loyola's campus with a number of different things going on and looking forward to graduating in less than two weeks and pursuing my masters in higher education and student affairs. i think to answer your question, my passion for working with college students does stem from the ability to work with activists and to work with community engagement and really understanding that college students during that transformative time is the opportunity for students to learn about these important issues and really find their voice. understanding that we can't just get discouraged when something doesn't go our way immediately but really being able to work towards that end common goal. president obama: fantastic. ok. [applause] [no audio]
>> i grew up in milwaukee, wisconsin. i am a u.s. army veteran. i major in sociology, minor in legal studies at roosevelt university. [applause] ramuel: i focus on community-based collaborative research projects. we've worked on projects ranging from landlord tenant issues to youth leadership programs and currently we're working on a project about the daily burr marketing in chicago. it's a pleasure to be here, mr. president. president obama: fantastic. tiffany: good morning. i'm tiffany. i was raised on the south side of chicago in a low-income household. i graduated valedictorian and
the top 10 from kenwood academy. broncos in the house. graduated number one from chicago state university with my bachelors in chemistry. [applause] and graduated from chicago state a second time with my doctorate in pharmacy. thank you. i'm -- i've currently been a community pharmacy manager on the south side of chicago. and fort past three years. nd i'm also author of 10 actics to tackling studying. it's for graduate and undergraduate success. [applause] max: hi. i'm max. you can see what they made me follow now. i have been involved in civic engagement and civic life here at the university of chicago through the institute of politics which has been, you know, an absolute blessing and a fantastic resource to all of us. the sum are after my first year here they gave stipends so that
-- i think the number was 16 of us could go to des moines for the summer of 2015 to either work with certain press agencies or with campaigns. and i think that was a really eye-opening experience in terms of how to campaign directly and how far you can move the needle. i've been involved on campus with student government and college republicans. president obama: fantastic. [applause] >> hello, everyone. i'm the baby of the panel. i'm currently a senior at kenwood academy high school. [applause] ayanna: and throughout my high school career i've been on multiple sports teams, etc. outside of high school i've been involved in a lot of community-based organizations to volunteer my time with the youth as well and in the fall i
will be attending paul quinn college in dallas, texas, with multiple scholarships in my name and i'm also an entrepreneur. i will say, with my own clothing line. president obama: ok. [applause] >> i live on the northwest side of chicago. i arrived as a proud immigrant around the age of 14 with my mom and my sister from india. and attended public schools and then went to the university of illinois-chicago. harish: both for my undergraduate studies and in urban planning and policies. after graduating i did become an organizer. with somebody in the audience i want to point out. mentor of mine. that experience led me to run
for office and most recently now i work for new america. new america chicago. i'm the deputy director here in chicago where we do what we do today. infuse new ideas, new voices in public policy conversation. so i'm really looking forward to this. president obama: fantastic. excellent. all right. so as you can see we have an extraordinary group here of sharp young people. but you also notice they kind have avoided my question. so -- but that's good because tees up the next segment. ook, in the presidential election, you have maybe half f your peers voting. in mid term elections about a third of your peers vote.
suspect that if you ask a lot of young people about a wide range of issues, regardless of sit they -- where they ideologically, they would say, yeah, i'm very concerned about the economy. i'm very concerned about foreign policy. i'm very concerned about this or that or the other. but a lot of them feel as if their involvement would not make a difference. it's not worth their time. they're t, discouraged but feel disempowered. all right. so all of you have already shown yourselves to be willing to get out there and be involved and to make a difference and i'm curious as to what is it you think that prompted you to get involved in
some fashion and also when you talk to your friends, what is it that you think is preventing them from doing so that might make a difference. we don't have to go in order. o if anybody wants to start. ayanna, i like that in you. ayanna: although i am in high school -- so i'm a senior so of course some of my peers were able to vote this year but overall i'm grateful i have the opportunity to take courses at kenwood academy high school that involve political science. you know, we take african-american studies, etc. but not a lot of schools have that opportunity. so i will say awareness is something that holds a lot of our youth back from getting involved because i'm privileged so therefore i step up and i encourage others to get involved and to have a voice. but i think the youth feel like they don't have a voice. so that played a huge factor as
to why the results are the way they are, if that makes sense. president obama: no. it makes a lot of sense. do you think, as you were coming up, you know, social studies, civic education, what kids are getting in the classroom would make a difference? do you think that it would make more of a difference if young people had the opportunities to volunteer with organizations, to engage in community service? what is it you think that would make the biggest difference in young people saying, you know what, if i volunteer for this organization, i might make a difference in my community? or if i participate on this issue, some -- somebody might hear my voice and might actually make a difference? what do you think would be most effective in encouraging people? ayanna: i feel like in order to encourage the youth, it involves to have a strong support system behind it to bring the youth up.
so, for instance, in school, we are taught social studies but we tend to focus on mathematics, science, english, you know, because that's what we're always brought up on because tests, exams, etc. so social studies and civic education tends to be pushed to the side. so i feel like it should be encouraged in the school system because the majority of our youth are in school, of course, and then from there build outside programs. o, you know, from there -- tiffany: so i agree with ayanna. since he went to kenwood too that was the start of me getting my foot in the door to want to expand and do outside things. i think also funding after-school programs and summer programs because i had two to three jobs ever since eighth grade every summer.
because, one, you make money, you know -- president obama: yeah. i was about to say. tiffany: also, that helped my resume, helped me get my feet wet to allow me see different opportunities, to see if i like being a counselor, if i wanted to be a cheerleading coach, if i wanted to be a tutor. so just trying different things every summer helped me hone in to what i want to do with the rest of my life. then after-school programs, too, the funding for that, it helps keep the kids off the streets so hopefully in chicago we'll have less violence since they'll have something to do. and also enriching their lives in schools and after schools and also in the summer. president obama: fantastic. i'm sorry. kelsey, i know -- didn't you bronx you it in the worked during the summer? what prompted you to first of all describe what the experience was and then give us a sense of what inspired you to
do something like that? kelsey: yeah. so i have been blessed at loyola to be involved with alternative break program that sends trips over spring break and winter break. the spring break of my junior year of college i spent in the south bronx working with an incredible group at an elementary school out there. we took a group of 10 students and were really there kind of like what you were saying, to enrich the students' lives through the week we were there. i think the unique way we run this program at loyola is we feel welcomed in these communities. we are not there to support them. while we aring there supporting them we are there to learn from the experiences that these students are having but really to understand just how wonderful so many of these young elementary school kids are. i remember the principal at immaculate conception which is the school we were at and said i hope you realize this is the only week out of the year the kids get to finger paint which is too messy with one teacher in the room. it took a lot of us there to be
able sure they do that. a very simple thing but really goes to show the impact that young people can have in these communities. president obama: now, ramuel, you were going to say something but your service in the military is an example of public service that i think thankfully everybody now appreciates. that wasn't always the case. obviously discovered was once our veterans take off the uniform, they leave service, sometimes people forget how much talent is there and the need to tap into the amazing young people that have served in our military so they can work in the community and continue the leadership that they've shown while they were in the military. you've been able to make that transition but talk a little bit about your mind set both
when you went into the military and after you left, how did that change your perception in terms of your responsibilities to your community and how you might be able to make a difference. ramuel: well, when i joined the military, i joined six months out of high school. i was working full time. i wasn't in school. i wasn't in college. where i come from, being in college is a big deal. graduating is a big deal. it's all about graduate high school, get a job, do stuff like that. and i was in the military and i realized there's so much more to that and that i am -- being afforded this wonderful opportunity to engage with so many different people from all over the country, have so many different views but we all share the same goal. and i realized if i wanted to make a larger contribution i was going to have to go to school and so that's what i
did. i served my initial contract. i received honorable discharge march, 2014. i moved to chicago, 2014. i was enrolled in roosevelt august, 2014. i didn't do it by myself. when i got out of the military i was part of this program called veterans upper bound and it's a precollege readiness program for veterans that need to brush up on their academic skills before they enter college. and that -- being a part of that literally saved me taking extra courses, remedial courses. so i benefited immensely from that. and i was fortunate enough to get a research assistant position at roosevelt and that really, like -- that really got me going because i was working with different projects, youth, landlords. i mean, it was amazing because, like, these are regular folks and that's something i definitely wanted to get
involved in. to answer your question about what i think is preventing youth, i believe what we need to do is connect personal issues -- personal problems with like public issues. i feel like sometimes, you know, you're working two jobs and you can't afford daycare. it's not because you're lazy. there's -- so if we can establish some sort of connection, demonstrate some connection -- and i am big on collecting data and numbers and, listen, 80% of people are experiencing this in your community and you just don't know it yet. you don't see it but here's the numbers, here's the facts. so i believe that is a huge thing that we can do to help that. president obama: look, you're making a terrific point. one of the things i learned -- and s organizing 's true for a lot of young
would-be do gooders. you show up in the neighborhood and your initial instinct is to tell people what they should be interested in instead of spending the first six months listening and finding out what they actually are interested in. and then connecting -- [applause] -- connecting their immediate needs to the policies that are having influence on those areas of concern. make more that you can the fact r people that the reason there aren't enough after-school programs is not just because they're impossible to set up but have to do with budgets. and here are the people that are making the decisions about the budgets. and the reason there's a lack f childcare is not because
you're the only single mom who needs childcare. everybody needs childcare, but there aren't enough facilities in place with trained childcare providers and this is what a change in public policy could do to provide everybody support. that's when you start bringing people together and their voices are amplified. because what's certainly true is one voice by itself rarely changes something. two voices have a better shot. 20 voices, we're getting somewhere. and -- but it begins with that listening process that you are talking about so people feel like they're being heard at the outset. so i think that's a great point. max, were you somebody who was always interested in politics
generally or is this something that kind of came to you? in since you've been active college republicans, two questions around that. number one, do you feel as if on college campuses sometimes you're not heard as much as you'd like to be? because i think there's certainly a perception sometimes among young people who are on the more conservative end of the spectrum that colleges are a bastion of political correctness and how do you sort of sort through that? but also, have you found ways in which you can connect and have a conversation with the college democrat and the person who has a different point of view so that we can encourage
better conversations and better understanding and hopefully more progress? max: yes. i think being interested in politics, i don't know i came from a particularly politically active family. my mother was involved in the p.t.a. when i was a child and that -- [applause] president obama: p.t.a. is a lot of work. max: in connecticut it is blood sport. i think the message something like that should send, she didn't need to do that. she did that because the educational system and more broadly the community that was fostered in the town was important to her and something worth giving her time to and something worth, you know, going out and no one pays you to do that and you take a great deal of flack. so i certainly honor that commitment. i think in eighth grade which was your first election, we in
social studies were told -- president obama: can i just say -- [laughter] resident obama: i'm old. but please continue. [laughter] president obama: in eighth grade. golly. max: in eighth grade, we were -- all right. i'll pick a different age. each of the beginning of the year picked a campaign to follow, you know, sort of through to fruition and each week we did a report for our teacher how the candidate had been featured in the news. any sort of polling information that we had accumulated. we never got them back. but we -- it was an interesting process in that it taught us to care about the news in a time when, you know, maybe that wasn't something that you went
home and watched and it was something that made you more cognizant of the issues. i was fortunate enough to go to highway in new hampshire where -- we're pandered to immensely. it's just part of the whole ethos that every four years they care. or that people care about what new hampshire has to say. and i think that one of the things that is a shame in that process is that there is a group that is as active every four years because they're influential, they're big in the towns they're from. ou said don't boo vote but don't boo act because you have a lot of people engaged in the process every four years and sort of gone for the in between period and then you have some if you're brought up that way and brought up to believe that your opinion's going to count for something, then go on to do big things. i had a friend whom i wept to high school with and she's been
from new hampshire her whole life. she's i think 20 now and she's a state rep. because, you know, she ran for an open seat and that's just how it goes up there. there's a commitment. in terms of being involved in politics, i was fortunate enough to take a year between high school and college and worked in washington, d.c. in the senate and that's an eye-opening experience because it forces you to confront in a real way what you believe and why and you gain a lot of information very, very quickly. i'm emmen'sly grateful to kelly ayotte for the opportunity. then after coming here, that sort of changed my world view. i thought i would come here and be an economist which i think every first year blibes at some level here. [laughter] max: and that coupled with my time at the institute of politics, which was a good structured force to show that, you know, there were many, many venues for us to engage civically. let me explore things like campaigning in iowa. as for being republican on a
college campus, yesterday nbc ran an article about this on their website and it didn't say who we were. it just said the composition was one republican and the rest were democrats or progressives. i had maybe three people send me the article and say, is it you? [laughter] max: but -- and it is if you're watching. but i would say it depends on the setting whether it's something i'm particularly forthcoming with. at the institute of politics i think most people know at this point and certainly in the beginning of 2016 when caucus season was going on, those of us who had been in iowa and do caucus math which as you know hot eal math but the commodity in the room when you would watch the votes tally but there were -- you know, there were venues certainly where i wouldn't have brought it up or wouldn't have been particularly
forthcoming with it. i think people suspected it but i didn't -- i'll leave that to the other student government people in the room to confirm or not. and i don't necessarily know what i was afraid of but i think there's a sense that if you harbor a view that doesn't jive with the majority view that you can expect some level of ostryization from certain people or expect people to assume the worse aspect of you based on beliefs you may or may not hold. i don't think anyone sitting in this room agrees with their party on 100% of issues 100% of the time for 100% of the people in their party. i might be wrong. if you raised your hand i can't see you. and so i think that being a republican on a college campus is in and of itself a sort of honor because, you know, most people don't agree with you and when you engage in the dorms and in the dining halls and,
you know, with those people who were able to see you the person and then the person with the political views, you're forced to know yourself well and to do soul searching well. to understand why it is that you think what you think and what parts of your past impact what you believe now and might believe tomorrow. i think the other thing is, there is a significant empathy gap. not just here but everywhere. you know, i think most people haven't had in their homes for dinner in a real way somebody who is significantly different from them. either politically or racially or for whatever reason, we've cloisted ourselves and so i think the liberal bastion aspect of college campuses certainly can be true. i've been lucky here the school's certainly committed to accepting, you know, our thoughts. but i think a broader societal problem is as we -- if you look at the county map of 2016, you
had, you know, a lot of counties where secretary clinton won over 80% of the vote and inverse was true for the president now. and there's not understanding. we're not talking -- it's not just we're reading different news, we don't talk to each other any more. i think it would be -- it would be good civic engagement at some point where we require a level of civility. there's a lot of problems with our politics. [applause] president obama: that's great. max: there's a lot of problems with our politics that begin at home. i think we blame intransigent politicians a lot for the failure of us -- of each of us to grasp each other well. so your mentor when you were a senator, dick lugar -- president obama: love that guy. max: and ultimately lost that primary for that reason. president obama: because he
talked to me. max: because people couldn't stand to see their member, you know, bridge a gap on a human level. and i think that's sad. i think there's both an empathy gap and people see politics especially in this generation saying this is ugly, this is mean, this is something you have pretty experienced people doing and, you know, if the country is a ship and politicians are sailors, maybe the boat moves a degree either way. i think the lack of results stems from a lack of us understanding each other well. i think marco rubio said it well a couple months ago. you can't really run a country when half of it hates the other and somehow we have to find ways to bridge that and to meet people who aren't like us. president obama: good. perfect. [applause] president obama: on this stage, other than me, i guess you're the other guy that's run for office. >> the oldest. president obama: i wasn't going
to say the oldest but the other guy who run for office. i know you lost but i did too once. right here in this community. >> i got some great too. president obama: there you go. but what prompted you to run for office, which is a different kind of engagement, and what did you take from the experience? did you feel discouraged by it? did you feel like, ok, this was fun or if it wasn't fun then it was worth it? you encourage other young people to take their shot. tell me a little bit about your thought process there. >> yeah. for me i wanted to start for the first time i ever did something that's considered civically engaged. harrish: i was an immigrant so i couldn't vote until after the iraq war that started. the first thing i was doing is protesting the iraq war.
because i felt passionate we were on the wrong side of history there. i think you were also at that point -- president obama: i agreed with you at the time. harish: i couldn't vote but i felt like a lot of other times civic engagement in its sense gets stuck in the dynamic of voting or electoral engagement. and doesn't always expand. i think we have to sort of expand it to maybe the -- or your mother did or being a on a board of nonprofit. there are tough positions to have or it's a lot of work there and i would hope moving forward we think about civic engagement beyond voting. but to directly answer the question around why i went from protesting to working at a nonprofit and organizing to thinking, oh, electoral politics is one of the many routes that i'm going to engage in and that happened for me actually happened in 2010.
it was after i had done organizing that i saw a lot of the jargon that was used against us as young people at that time i didn't understand. so i went back to college and understand it. when i ran it was too -- i don't have my last name is patel. there's not a lot of patels in office. president obama: a lot of patels in india. patels e a lot more than there are obamas. harish: agree. so a hussein joke but -- at some point i sort of felt that both or more than -- i don't want to get stuck in this sort of two-party language but there's a lot of different cult of personalities, cult of politics that young people get
drawn to and they can't go beyond the questions you are allowed to ask within. i wanted to be able to protest and be able to run for office and run a small business and do the organizing and be able to figure out which is the most effective way that i want to, one, live my life and be happy and also inspire a whole generation of folks that maybe look like me or come from maws limb background and most people of color feel like they can literally do anything. that's one of the major reasons. also, illinois has an establishment politics that is really old. not old in age but old in thinking. there's a monopoly of power, money, ideas that only come from few families, sometime a few zip codes. and i wanted to say that it's not how we should move forward. president obama: good. i think that's terrific. a couple of the -- couple of
thoughts based on some of the things that folks have said. first, what you said harish, there are a lot of different ways to engage i think is important because sometimes people think if you're not running for office or it's not election day, there's no other ways of getting involved. and the p.t.a. is a perfect example of the kind of thing .hat we want to encourage there are a bunch of writers out there and social scientists and thinkers that would argue one of the problems we have with our politics right now is that the mediating nstitutions, the unions, the churches, the p.t.a. groups, the rotary club, a lot of the voluntary organizations that used to exist, black sororities
and fraternities, that used to bring people in together to en work on issues that those have declined and the statistics show that people are less likely to be involved with various organizations in their community than they used to be. and what that means is then people don't have some of the same habits of being together on a common project that they used to. we become a more individualistic society. and that i think has some spillover effects when it comes to both political participation but also in terms of empathy because you're interacting with fewer people on a regular basis. the second thing, though, has to do with how we get information. so i want to throw this out and
see what people think. i think a lot of us who have been in politics for a while do see a change from 20 years ago, certainly 30 years ago where it used to be everybody kind of had the same information and we had different opinions about it but there were a common baseline of facts and that the internet in some ways has accelerated this sense of people having entirely separate this sations and if generation is getting all of its information through its phones that you really don't have to confront people who have different opinion or have different experience or liberal you're on msnbc and
conservative you're on fox news. you're reading "the wall street journal" or "the new york times." or whatever your choices are. maybe you're looking at cat videos which is fine. [laughter] president obama: so one question i have for all of you is, how do you guys get your information about the news and what's happening out there? are there ways in which you better job of a creating a common conversation now that you got 600 cable stations and you got all these different news outlets that basically are offering one set of opinions? if there are two sets of opinions they are just yelling at each other. you don't get a sense there's
actual conversation going on. and the internet's worse. it's become more and more polarized. how much do you think that affects how people think about issues and are there ways that that could be changed given that most of your information and certainly for the younger people coming up behind you even more they're getting their information primarily off their phones? ayanna. ayanna: i think social media has its pros and its cons. for instance, when it comes to gaining information what's going on in the world, it's way faster on social media than it is on a newscast. but on the other hand, it can be a downfall because what if you're passing the wrong information or the information isn't presented in a way it should be? so that causes a clash in our generation and i think it should go back to the old school which -- harish: no
phones. ayanna: i think phones, social media should be eliminated. wait, wait, wait. i think -- i think i should rephrase myself. i think when it comes to politics and important information that can influence younger generations it should be organic. so politicians should actually reach out and actually physically talk to the community so it can't be any misconception on the information being passed. because social media going to twitter or facebook, anybody can hack your social media page. that causes a lot of problems. and to actually go out to the community, the community will feel more welcomed. and i think that goes back to actually getting involved because to have somebody shake your hand and to actually look at you and talk to you, it's a more heart-felt feeling to actually listen to what that person has to say. president obama: that's interesting.
kelsey. kelsey: i think one of the things you bring it up and you were thinking about going back to the basics and having those in-person conversations. i think people being able to listen to understand rather than to listen to respond. there doesn't always have to be an immediate response. let's understand our both viewpoints. president obama: i learned that in marriage, by the way. [applause] just a tip for you young people. understand rather than listen to and respond. that will save you a lot of heartache and grief. sorry. kelsey: no, you're fine. president obama: little tip there. kelsey: no. i think it's something our generation we find it easier to hide behind facebook screens, inat that gram posts. to listen to the other side is the only way at the end of the day we're ever going to get anything done. ramuel: i think it's important to engage with the leaders of
that community and instead of going in there and, one, thinking because it affects you in another city doesn't mean it's going to be the same dynamics in this neighborhood. and i think it's important to understand that i want to help but i also need to be humble and listen to people that have lived through it and understand -- have more a clear understanding what's needed. dialogue is important. liberation is important. i mean, you need to critically analyze people's views. you -- and then you can create a plan off that. i definitely think as far as like where you get your news from, diversity is important. not every news station that, you know, leans republican is horrible. it's nice to -- you need to understand how the other side thinks.
but, yeah, i really believe that not shunning other people that have different views than you, recognizing that as you do want to help but respect the fact that there are people that have been here longer than you that have lived through the issues and you need to work with them instead of outsourcing their help and stuff. president obama: any other thoughts? max, you got something to say on this? max: yeah. there was an interesting -- it was either in the journal or the times shortly before the election that showed -- they made a generic republican facebook page and democratic facebook paining and showed you the news articles that will be on their news feed that they can go and see. you know, the facts of the case we now live in a -- there's rumors we don't have facts anymore in society. i'm in a class called truth. the first class they played a
documentary with a man who was a -- a defense attorney in the bronx during the 1970's. he'll tell you if you ask somebody a shape a table is you can get three answers. if you're sitting at the table it's probably a rectangle. if you're underneath it who knows, it's the ceiling. if you're on the right it's clearly a semicircle. i think that's basically where we are with the news. i don't know if the coverage were of the same issues people would find factual difference anyway. i think part of the problem is that we don't agree on what the issue use are that are pressing and facing the country. i don't know how you get there but i don't think that a national dialogue necessarily starts online or starts in the press. i think it starts door-to-door and maybe that's how people go about campaigning in that right now it's easy to sort of know
you have numbers if you can only get them to show up and there's working out to get somebody to turn out for you. instead there is a broad incentive to spend millions of dollars in advertisements saying that if my opponent is elected, that, you know, the apocalypse will occur, rivers will run red and hawaii will sink. if the ship only moves one degree there's got to be a line in that one degree to make all those things happen. but i think at all levels there should be a civic conversation and people will be willing to talk to each other again. i don't know -- maybe it does start in middle school where you see in a class who has differing views and then commit part of social studies time to have people talk through issues of the day and why they think what they think. we have to get back to a place where i think people can talk to each other again. president obama: that's been a running theme. , the reason i
was able to run for the united in s senate was because addition to my base here in chicago, i had spent a lot of time traveling around the state and over time i got to know people in parts of illinois that would today be considered red. and i lucked out effectively that i was kind of under the radar screen to political ads didn't characterize me and people would meet me even though i'm this chicago lawyer rom a liberal district with an arab-sounded name and -- but i'd show up and then, you know, you have a conversation. and you talk about their kids nd basketball and what was
happening in their jobs. people got a sense that my frames of reference and my values were not so different from theirs. and that gave me the ability to break through some of the assumptions that people might have otherwise had. and in some ways iowa was the same way. i'm traveling around the state, as you know from having worked there, it's retail politics. you're going door-to-door. you're talking to people. and we didn't have a huge amount of money particularly initially for tv ads so it was just meeting people. and that does change people's assumptions when they get a chance to know somebody directly. so part of what we're going to have to figure out is how do we create greater opportunities? red hat's true between
parts of the state and blue parts of the state. it's true even in the city of chicago. i was yesterday with a group of young men who are part of a rogram designed to give them opportunities and pathways away from violence and crime and these are some young people from 18 to 24. all were african-american except one who was latino. many of whom had already prison records and had done some pretty rough stuff. several of whom had already been shot in some cases multiple times. none of whom had grown up with fathers. many of whom had effectively
been orphaned when they were very young. d so this would be the stereotypical profile of somebody who has a good likelihood of shooting or getting shot here in chicago. it's part of the violence that has been plaguing the city. and what was striking when you sat down with these guys was they're young people. and if you had listened to them talking you would recognize them as not that different from any other young man 18 to 24. what was different was their circumstances. they had grown up in some cases in foster care or their mother was a drug addict and they had even glected and so
within the city boundaries a lot of times we will our cterize our neighbors, -- as something entirely different than us. that we can't understand and that we're afraid of and we can't communicate with them. political rhetoric enforce it is. they need to be heard too. if the six of you had been in that conversation, you would have come away not saying these are some thugs or superpredators that i can't relate to. you'd actually say, man, if i had gone through what they went through, i'm not sure how things would have worked out for me either. and that creation of empathy then promises a different kind of civic response and political response than the one that so often we have.
so that hearing other people i think is vital and the question is, are there ways in which we can create opportunities to do that for more young people earlier on before the lines of division start hardening. tiffany, you were going to say omething. president obama: is this another story about how old i am? >> no, concert choir, we were downtown, and i walked to one official because i recognized him from tv and he said no, you cannot talk to me right now and i saw you and i said hi, mr. obama, can i take a picture with you, and you said no and i was like, what is going on? they say on tv they care about people. you said no, not until i tell you my name first -- dr. brown: you shook my hand and
you talked to me a little bit and all of that inspired me that he is not just a face on tv. that helps me to want to be involved and listen to it we had o say. going back to what max is saying, they did show us different deals and we went for pharmacy week in springfield. chicago state actually did and it was the fight for our right. they may take away that i cannot dispense drugs anymore and i had no say in it. i do think bring it in -- bringing it into the schools would be beneficial. president obama: i am a little
out of practice. we will have to find out how long we were supposed to be here. but i am having fun. how long are we supposed to be ere? what i was thinking is i have been asking a lot of questions and should give you guys an opportunity to ask me a couple of questions. before time is up. anybody want to take a shot? not you. e're talking young people. i did not mean to imply you are not young. i am just saying. go ahead. >> i definitely have a question. i have been working on a project called latino youth.
we have been working on surveying day laborers on the corners where there cert -- where they search for work. i started in september. initially it was difficult because again, -- i went with a organizer, so it definitely elped. after november, it was extremely ifficult to talk to you. had already conducted 20 up until then and it continues until march. between november and march, it was just the presence of me being out there with the clipboard -- president obama: made them nervous. ramuel: exact to appear i was talking -- exactly. i was talking to them and explain why was there and it was like you are only one erson.
y question to you is how could you bring these people, not like me, i want to engage with them and i do it i can, how can i tell these men and women to come out of the shadow, and how can i tell them it is ok to tell me your work condition and nothing will happen? president obama: in some ways, you already answered your own question. there is a matter of trust. so for you to finish your research project, you will need somebody they trust to introduce you to them. one thing i learned as an rganizer and then as a politician, is your ability to
create trust and relationships is the thing that makes all the difference in being able to have an impact. that is hard to do in this current environment, but it is ot impossible. ay the someone whose legal status is less at risk, i think enerally speaking, immigration s a good example of an issue that stirs up so much passion and misinformation that it is hard for us to have a good healthy conversation about it. the interesting thing is historically you look at
surveys, the overwhelming majority of americans believe america is a nation of immigrants, and immigration has contributed to the wealth and prosperity in the country. the majority of americans also believe immigration should be lawful and orderly, that it should not be half hazard. sometimes they feel frustrated if it is perceived that folks breaking the rules are cutting the line essentially. it is important for those who support as i do immigration reform and pathways to citizenship for folks who are here not to assume everybody who has trouble with the current immigration system is automatically racist. that is an example of us being
ble to listen. or those who are concerned about undocumented workers coming and whether across the border or overstaying visas, it is important for them to appreciate the degree to which is our home alone -- overwhelmingly families who are just looking for a better life or their children. i always used to say sometimes in crown's were folks did not ant to hear it, the truth is the history of our immigration system has always been a little bit half hazard, a little loose, a little determined by did the
country want more workers, if you look at what was said about irish when they were coming here in the wake of the potato famine, they talked about them the same way you hear people talk about immigrants today. this is an example of where everybody being able to see the reality of immigrants as people, not as some other, is important. it also requires us who are advocates on behalf of mmigrants to have some respect for people who you may be able to win them over if you could argue we will create in mmigration system that is fair
but still allows people to come here and achieve some sort of opportunity. the short-term problem, you have got to find somebody who trusts you and you might want to put away the clip toward and get to know them a little bit before you start -- one of the things we used to always say is don't mock on people store with a quick -- with a clipboard. they do not know if you are the tax man. they don't know how long this hing is going to take. they are in the middle of a ballgame or you know, watching reruns of desperate housewives or something and they are really into it and then they're like oh man, a guy with a clip board, i do not want to hear all hat. we have got time for two or three more.
> i would love to understand your perspective on failure or, i am worried about young people who claim one thing in high school and when they get to ollege and older, the claims stay with them, what they tweeted and instagram to and snapchat it, and they do not get to grow and ideas and thoughts and then people will bring that up. officials running for office, you might have said, not a feminist at 19 and then go yes, i'm a feminist, now that i and her stand it. i read a book and i get it. so how are you, how do you sort of think about the concept from using technology and also as someone long-term? president obama: i have a couple of responses. with respect to failure, it is
terrible but necessary. if you are going to try something hard and you are putting your self out there in some way, there will be times when you screw up or do not succeed. there are times when you do everything right and you do not succeed. that is not just true of olitics or running a not-for-profit, some of you talk about much of an starting a clothing line, that is its -- that is eight -- a cutthroat business. you will go through some ailures. i think the most important thing, and this is a cliché, but sometimes they are true, is to and from those failures. and to have a sense of
resilience and examine what is it that i did not succeed at, why did i not succeed, and what do i need to do better? the political race i lost was to ongressman bobby rush. it is interesting. i'm writing a book about my political journey and as i was writing, i thought about that race. what i was reminded of was the degree to which that was probably the soul time in my political career where i think iran more because i think it was the next thing, rather than because i had a good theory of what it is i wanted to do. a lot of folks who get into
politics make this mistake. i talk to young people and always tell them, worry less about what you want to be and worry more about what you want to do. president obama: when you are more concerned with, i want to be a congressman, or i want to be a senator or i want to be rich, then some people may ucceed in chasing that goal, but when they get there, they don't know what to do. when they don't get there, they don't have anything to show for it. when you are worried about, i want to improve education in low income neighborhoods, or i want
to do with climate change and help save the planet, whatever you are doing is -- in pursuit of that goal is going to be worth it and will teach you things and put you in a position to have an impact. and then as a result you are uccessful in politics or whatever thing you are pursuing, o much the better and bill gates did not start off saying he wanted to be the richest men in the world. he started off, i really think computers are cool and i want to write software. that is what he wanted to do and t worked out well for him. i think that is with respect to the failure issue.
if you are focused on giving of yourself to accomplish something, even when you fail at a particular objective, you are succeeding in learning about how you can accomplish those goals and it does not just become about you. in terms of how to deal with the fact that, as you grow up, you re going to learn and change and evolve in all kinds of ways, and that is healthy and normal, the problem now is with the internet, that past is always there. one way to think about it, it is
true that if you have pictures of everything i had done when i was in high school, i probably would not have been president of the united states. so i would advise all of you to be a little more circumspect -- circumspect about your selfies and what you take pictures of, just a suggestion. but it is a real problem that everything is searchable. it is one of the biggest challenges of being in public life, generally. i wrote a book about my early journey, "dreams of my father," a long time ago and because i had been pretty honest about the truggles i had went through as
a young man, when iran for office and there was some big reveal about, oh, the guide smoked pot, -- the guy smoked pot, i was like, yes, it was in my book. president obama: i did not sugarcoat it and i did not somehow suggest that it was something i recommend for everybody. but that is what teenage kids did at that age where i was growing up. not everybody. some were wiser than me. i was not that wise. i think the best you can do is to own your life and your mistakes and the changes that you go through. it does not mean it is always pleasant to ask people all up in your business. i must have had at this .6, seven biographies written about me.
i am sure more are coming out. generally speaking, one of the frustrations is my life was not that exciting until i guess i was president. o i did not have these amazing experiences. i did not really accomplish all that much when i was in high school in college. so folks did not go around -- and they are looking for stuff and then they try to dramatize things that were kind of routine and there is a part of you that kind of says, why would you care about this? it is not that interesting. but that is the nature of the
business in some ways. that is for people running for office and not for most of you wanting to get involved and participate. there is something you need about -- unique about politics and i do not think there is anything you can do about it other than the fact that your human and you make mistakes. i think most people understand that. ertainly most people of this generation who understand a lot of stuff ends up on the nternet. they are probably more forgiving about those kinds of issues. i have to say there is a reason why i am always optimistic if and when things look like they are sometimes not going the way i want and it is because of young people like this.
it gives you a sense of what is ossible. my hope is that working with young leaders like this, the organizations and universities and high schools, nonprofit organizations, community groups getting engaged, that my foundation and presidential center will be able to provide more and more pathways for young eople getting involved so that when somebody like me 35 years ago decides i have got something to contribute, we will have eased the path for them and maybe they will learn from the mistakes i and others have made. but i really appreciate the outstanding contributions all of you have made and i am excited to see what you all doing the future.
>> back from a two-week recess, the house gavels for legislative business in eight minutes. eight bills on the agenda especially one calling on t.s.a. screening procedures. and resolution dealing with south sudan and couple of bills with use of the capitol grounds. live coverage on c-span. part of a conversation we did, one of our member