Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Monday, April 24, 2017

President Obama talks civic engagement with emerging youth leaders.

Today, in what could be seen as his first public forum since leaving office, President Obama reached out to young leaders during a civic engagement event at the University of Chicago to listen to thoughts and ideas on how youth can, and are, working to improve communities through engagement and opportunity.

President Obama talks with youth during University of Chicago youth forum.
The panel of youth who have forged ahead in their own lives to make positive differences talked about their own successes while providing ideas on how other youth can get involved to improve the quality of life and opportunity for today's youth.

Samuel Figueroa a student from Roosevelt University shared the ideal of making “personal connections” to private situations.

He said he believes in providing statistics to show where the need is in communities and said he likes to “connect the facts.” Figueroa also said that “listening” is key.

“It’s true”, said Obama. “When I was organizing I listened to find out way of connecting [people’s] immediate needs to the policies that address their immediate concern.”

Obama used the example of child care suggesting “You can tell someone they need child care”, but helping them get child care is where the engagement comes in.

Harish Patel of New America said the electoral politics is one of the many routes to engagement.

"I couldn’t vote, but civic engagement expands on what your parents did", said Patel.

Patel said he began his civic engagement by protesting the war in Iraq.  He said he went back to college to understand the “political jargon”.  

“I wanted to be eligible to participate in what is the most effective way to live my live and have impact.”

Other panel participants included Tiffany Brown, college grad (magna cum laude, pharmaceutical studies) and Max Freeman of the University of Chicago.

Obama is likely to make more public appearances like today's event at the University of Chicago. On November 18, the former president is scheduled to headline the Richmond Forum in Richmond, Va.