Barack Obama: 'I'm Always Optimistic' About Future of US

These include calling Obama "a bad guy", to unsubstantiated allegations of him ordering illegal wire tapping of Trump towers, the office and home of Trump in NY, before the 2016 United States elections, his mismanagement of the country's intervention in the Middle east, among others.

Obama's address on Monday marks his return to the public eye since giving his presidential farewell speech in Chicago in January. Obama received a warm welcome at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, where he was joined on stage by six young leaders for a discussion on civic engagement. He shared the stage with five college students and graduates and one high school senior, talking about what's keeping some young people from being more involved in their communities.

The invitation-only audience included students selected from, according to Obama's office: Harold Washington College; Malcolm X College; Kennedy King College; Columbia College; University of Chicago; Chicago State University; University of Illinois at Chicago; Roosevelt University; Northwestern University; DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology; and Loyola University.

Mr Trump made no mention of Mr Trump during his appearance. It whet the appetites among those who have called for him to lead the resistance against the Trump administration, surely, but a select few quotes from Obama's Chicago speech was a timely reminder of the former president's charm and oratory skills, and further highlighted the huge disparity between the him and his successor.

Obama said he came to Chicago's South Side at 25 years old "filled with idealism and absolutely certain I was going to change the world". Obama started by telling a story of how he got involved in community service in Hyde Park.

"We confront a whole range of challenges ... all those problems are serious, they're daunting, but they're not insoluble".

Obama "felt like he was getting back in touch with his roots", Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said about the surprise visit. Obama said in his opening remarks at the University of Chicago, where he once was a lecturer at the law school.

As reported by The Slot, Obama was encouraged by the conversation, saying, "I have to say that there's a reason why I'm always optimistic when things look like they're sometimes not going the way I want". If you haven't listened to the speech yet, you can watch it on Livestream, as well as on YouTube via TIME's channel.

On Sunday, as part of a program to help at-risk young people, Mr Obama met privately with men from Chicago's troubled south side to discuss solutions for the violence and joblessness that have marked that neighbourhood.

But for now, he has abstained from any substantive commentary on how Trump is doing, in keeping with presidential protocol that dictates that past residents of the White House do not step on the toes of the current occupant.

  • Leroy Wright