20 Memorable Barack Obama Quotes

(Last Updated On: December 5, 2019)
20 Memorable Barack Obama Quotes

Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. After completing his undergraduate studies at Columbia in 1983, with a degree in political science, he worked in the business sector for two years. Also during this time, Obama began his work as a community organizer in Chicago on the South Side.

Obama entered Harvard Law School in 1988, and in 1989, he served as a summer associate at Sidley Austin, where he met future wife Michelle. After law school, Obama served as a civil rights lawyer and taught part time at the University of Chicago’s law school. In 1995, he published acclaimed memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.

Obama started his career in politics when he became a state senator in 1996, before running and winning an Illinois senate seat in 2004. It was at this time that much of the national audience came to know who he was because of his powerful speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In August of that year, Obama won reelection as a senator in a landslide, setting the stage for his historical 2008 election and 2012 second term.

Life As President

Considered a centrist New Democrat, Obama’s early presidency was marked by a handful of landmark bills, including the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act. In foreign policy, he increased US troops in Afghanistan and reduced nuclear weapons with the New START treaty. He ordered military involvement in Libya, which led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. And he also ordered the military operations that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

After winning re-election against Republican Mitt Romney, President Obama would shift his focus to more domestic issues. He began to promote inclusiveness for LGBT Americans, and he started making calls for stricter gun control. 

His second term also saw the US enter in the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change, and he initiated sanctions against Russian following their invasion of Ukraine. President Obama also gained global praise for his Iran nuclear deal, and for his role in normalizing US relations with Cuba.

As the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama was notable not just for being the country’s first African-American president, but for his many accomplishments as commander-and-chief. From his political start to the end of his presidency, here are some of the Barack Obama quotes that many people still remember and recite today.

20 Memorable Barack Obama Quotes


On Life

“The cynics may be the loudest voices, but I promise you, they will accomplish the least.”

“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”

“You can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time.”

“Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”


On the Past and Future

“The worst thing that colonialism did was to cloud our view of our past.”

“We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort. We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs; we choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.”

“We should do everything we can for our country to live up to our children’s expectations.”

“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.”

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.”


On America

“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America.”

“With eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

“Now, as a nation, we don’t promise equal outcomes, but we were founded on the idea everybody should have an equal opportunity to succeed. No matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, you can make it. That’s an essential promise of America. Where you start should not determine where you end up.”

“I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together: black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight; men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance under the same proud flag to this big, bold country that we love. That’s what I see. That’s the America I know!”

“The long sweep of America has long been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all and not some.”


On Peace, Hope, and Change

“Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.”

“The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech.”

 “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.” 

“Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.”

“Yes we can!”


On the State of Hip-Hop

“The thing about hip-hop today is it’s smart, it’s insightful. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable.”


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