In his very last press conference, President Obama offered some consolation to supporters still feeling raw about the imminent inauguration of Donald Trump, delivered with a reminder that the fight for racial equality in the country is far from over.
Building on his farewell address in Chicago, Obama said while "we've got more work to do on race," things continue to improve, and that today's kids are smarter, more tolerant, and inclusive "by instinct."
"We’re going to have to make sure that we–in our own lives and our own families and workplaces–do a better job of treating everyone with basic respect," he said.
Obama later said that if "we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, we're gonna have a woman president, we’re gonna have a Latino president, we’ll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president, who knows who we’re gonna have. I suspect we’ll have a whole bunch of mixed up presidents at some point where nobody really knows what we’re gonna call then."
But Obama didn't shy away from highlighting some of the specific issues that sow systemic inequality–like the lasting legacy of Jim Crow laws in modern measure that make it harder to vote.
"The reason that we are the only country among advanced democracies that makes it harder to vote is–it traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery," Obama said. "And that’s not who we are. That shouldn’t be who we are. That’s not when America works best."
He continued: "This whole notion of voting fraud, this is something that has constantly been disproved, this is fake news."
Rather than the polls being flooded with people trying to vote who aren't eligible–a fallacy stoked by the Republicans behind voter suppression measures–Obama said the opposite is true: That plenty of Americans who are eligible to vote don't cast ballots.
But Obama ended his last meeting with the White House Press Corps on a positive note, telling reporters, "I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe people are more good than bad."
"At my core, I think we're gonna be OK, we just have to fight for it, we have to work for it, and not take it for granted," he said.
Watch a clip of Obama's remarks on race below via ABC News:
Pres. Obama: "We got more work to do on race. It is simply not true that things have gotten worse, they haven't. Things are getting better." pic.twitter.com/0hKjRTOyno
— ABC News (@ABC) January 18, 2017