Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio and others pay tribute to Obama in emotional 'Yes We Can' video

High-profile figures, activists and even children share their fondest memories of the outgoing president and list his biggest achievements 

Maya Oppenheim
Monday 09 January 2017 14:35
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Celebrities say goodbye to Obama in emotional video

There are no three words which better embody Barack Obama’s presidential campaign than “Yes we can”. First used in New Hampshire in 2008, the trademark catchphrase made his candidacy inclusive and won over voters disillusioned with Washington politics.

With the outgoing President due to leave the White House in just over ten days time, the mantra has been given a reboot. The White House has shared a video titled “Yes we can: your most memorable moments from the Obama presidency”.

Featuring high profile figures, activists and children, the video looks back at Mr Obama’s biggest achievements from his time in office. It explores the issues he has raised awareness around, the attitudes he has changed and the landmark moments of his presidency.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfield, John Legend, Kerry Washington, Samuel L Jackson and many others share their dearest memories of the President and the moments which made them say “Yes we can”.

“I never cried before, from an election result,” admits singer John Legend.

“When I was at the UN and I heard our president say that climate change is the most important issue facing, not only this generation but also future generations, it was inspiring,” reflects DiCaprio.

DeGeneres applauds the President's dancing talents, saying: “The CVS experience with Michelle was pretty cool and dancing with Barack at his birthday party. And he’s a good dancer. He should not get any flack for that - you’re a good dancer”.

Tom Hanks says it is Mr Obama’s policy on Cuba which stands out for him. “He just changed all the rules on the table with regards to Cuba with the most succinct motivation imaginable which is ‘what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked’,” he explains.

Kerry Washington explains how Mr Obama’s presidency made people feel like they had a stake in the White House. "You really felt those first three words of the constitution, 'We the people''."

Samuel L Jackson recounts the moment that the Affordable Care Act was passed. “I have relatives that can’t afford health insurance so it was really a great thing to know that if something happened to them, they could get cared for”.

The video also includes people explaining how Mr Obama made them feel part of the White House during his presidency. People cite everything from him raising awareness of sexual violence to championing same sex marriage and transgender rights, to the signing of the Paris Agreement as their most memorable moments.

One school student in the third grade recounts how he personally replied to a letter to her and Melinda Gates remembers seeing him engage with students in Boston schools. Another participant thanks him for lighting the first ever diya in the White House to observe Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Although there is no mention of President-elect Donald Trump in the video, there is an underlying sense of sadness about what is to come.

The Obamas are currently preparing to bid farewell to the American electorate. They held their last party at the White House on Friday and Michelle Obama gave her final speech as first lady. Speaking at the White House during an event to honour school counsellors, the outgoing First Lady issued an emotional defence of America’s diversity with tears in her eyes. She told her young audience “the country belongs to you”.

Mr Obama will give his final speech as president in his hometown of Chicago on Tuesday.

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