Today, President Obama spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City. He addressed an audience that included an exceptional variety of people, including actor Matt Damon and former President Bill Clinton.
It was his third speaking engagement of the day, but his passion for the issues he touched on was not diminished.
In his speech, President Obama focused especially on civil society and the importance of civic engagement: "It is citizens -- ordinary men and women, determined to forge their own future -- who throughout history have sparked all the great change and progress."
Indeed, many of the greatest achievements in history were a product of regular people taking a stand for justice and equality. Accordingly, President Obama remarked:
"The most important title is not president... The most important title is citizen." - @BarackObama @ClintonGlobal @EliteDaily #CGI2014 — John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) September 23, 2014
Elite Daily was invited to come listen to the president speak, and what was particularly notable to us was how enthusiastically he spoke about young leaders:
Message to young leaders around the world: America stands with you. - @BarackObama @ClintonGlobal #CGI2014 — John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) September 23, 2014
During the speech, the president singled out several young leaders from across the globe that were present in the audience. He spoke about the way in which these young people have selflessly stood up against what seem like insurmountable challenges, simply because they want to build a better future.
In President Obama's eyes, it's important that the United States continues to support and engage with young people across the globe. In the process, we can help build the next generation of civil society leaders.
Likewise, shortly before the president spoke, former President Bill Clinton highlighted how proud he was of establishing Americorps 20 years ago:
All those 900,000 young people that have done that, are now out making a difference in the world... An astonishing 2/3 of them have chosen a career in public service.
It was incredibly inspiring to see a former president and the current president highlight the accomplishments and leadership of Millennials in both the United States and abroad. This generation has already shown its immense capacity for civic engagement, as well a deep concern for the world and its future.
This past weekend, nearly half a million people took to the streets of New York City to express their growing concern about the impact of climate change. Many of these people were Millennials, as this generation understands how important and imminent this issue is.
We have to continue this trend of civic engagement and fight for our rights while also spreading awareness on the issues that concern and impact us: climate change, gender equality, same-sex marriage, civil rights, unemployment, student loan debt and beyond.
If there was anything to take away from President Obama's speech today, it's that citizens have the power to make major changes. Don't doubt this generation's ability to send shockwaves across the globe.
As long as there are young people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, there is hope for this world. Likewise, the president noted:
No matter how dark the hour, we remember those words of Dr. King: 'The time is always ripe to do right.' And Dr. King also said: 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.' The reason we support civil society is because we have seen in this country of ours that it does, in fact, bend toward justice. But it does not do so on its own. It does so because there are hands of ordinary people doing extraordinary things every single day and they pull that arc in the direction of justice.
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