Former President Barack Obama joined his former campaign manager and members of the Obama Alumni Association for a video chat before Tuesday’s groundbreaking of the Obama Presidential Center.
“We want a constant swirl of activity,” Obama said during the chat Monday. “A lot of our programming where we’re identifying top, young leaders around the country and around the world, this is a place where they can convene, work with folks who’ve done the work they’re doing, exchange ideas, find cohorts that can support them.”
Obama said he hopes the center becomes one of the institutions that support, fight on behalf of and train people to believe in democracy, participation and citizenship, which are ideas he said are the “antibody” to some troubling trends that have emerged in the country and around the world.
“At a moment of great disruption when I think all of us are worried about some trend lines out there to the degree to which people’s fears and in some cases and legitimate concerns about globalization and technology and migration and social media, all of these things are converging,” he said. “What we’ve seen is that there’s one possibility in which we work through that and come out on the other side more unified, more inclusive, more just, more environmentally sustainable in terms of how we organize our economy and our society, and there’s another path in which we become more divided, more tribal.”
He said the center is meant to tell the story of how progress nationally and internationally has “always started with a bunch of folks who see an injustice or see a wrong” and decide to come together to take responsibility and create change. He said he hopes to see the campus become the epicenter of that change.