Obama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night'

Obama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night'
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Former President Obama during ABC’s Juneteenth television special said that ensuring that democracy “continues to work effectively” as the United States becomes more diverse is one of the main things that “keeps him up at night.” 

During a special episode of ABC’s documentary series “Soul of a Nation” titled, “Juneteenth: Together We Triumph,” the former president was asked by “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan, “What keeps you up at night, and what gives you the most joy?” 

In response to the first question, Obama replied, “How does our democracy get refreshed and updated so that it continues to work effectively as we become a more diverse society?” 


“How can we ensure that if you work hard in this country, you can make it?” the former commander in chief added. 

Obama’s interview was included in the two-hour television special celebrating the history and culture of Black Americans and the legacy of Juneteenth, the day commemorating when news of slavery’s end reached Texas in 1865, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. 

The day, June 19, officially became a federal holiday in the U.S. with President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE’s Thursday signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, with federal agencies and businesses observing the holiday on Friday this year since Juneteenth falls on a Saturday. 

Obama in the interview identified his daughters, Malia and Sasha, as what gives him the most joy. 

The former president specifically noted their participation in last summer’s wave of racial justice protests after the police killing of George Floyd and other Black individuals, which fueled fervent calls for police reform and an end to police brutality. 


“I was proud of the fact that they participated in some of these protests, not in a high profile way, because they didn't want to use their quasi-celebrity as a way of leading the parade, but as workers behind the scenes,” he explained. “That's part of why I'm optimistic, because I'm seeing this next generation coming up."

Obama added of his daughters, “When I see the two of them and the grace and kindness and sense of responsibility they have been to each other and to the wider world, of all the things I have accomplished in my life, my partnership with Michelle resulting in them, that makes everything worth it.” 

Obama previously commended Malia Obama, 22, and Sasha Obama, 20, for participating in racial justice demonstrations in a November interview for his memoir, “A Promised Land.” 

"I didn't have to give them a lot of advice because they had a very clear sense of what was right and what was wrong and their own agency and the power of their voice and the need to participate," he said at the time.