Barack Obama is still calling for hope and change. In his first on-camera remarks about the killing of George Floyd and nationwide protests, the former president said that when despair strikes, "I see what is happening with young people all across this country"—and it makes him feel "as if this country is going to get better." In a livestreamed video ahead of a virtual town hall on policing in America, he said the country has recently seen "epic changes and events as profound as anything I've seen in my lifetime," the Guardian reports. He addressed the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and "too many others to mention," saying "Michelle and I, and the nation grieve with you ... we're committed to the fight of creating a more just nation in memory of your sons and daughters."
Discussing racism in America, he said the current upheaval marks an opportunity for change and an "awakening" around issues of police violence: "I want to speak directly to the young men and women of color in this country," he said. "I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter. That your dreams matter." Voting versus protest, he said, is not an "either-or" situation. He also invited mayors across America to sign a pledge on his website to review and reform use-of-force policies. The New York Times reports that before Obama's address, Jimmy Carter also spoke out. "As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans," the former president said in a statement. "We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this." (More Barack Obama stories.)