Obama dishes on leadership at 1st event since leaving office

The panel at the University of Chicago was the 55-year-old former Democratic president's first public engagement since leaving office.

With a signature wisecrack, Obama sat down with the words: "So, what's been going on while I've been gone?".

"The single most important thing I can do is to help in any way prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world."

The former President told the laughing audience to be careful what you take pictures of.

A lot has happened since Barack Obama left the White House, so it should surprise no one that in the former president's return to the spotlight Monday, he had a lot to say. And with Reagan 2.0 in office, we could use it.

Obama's remarks - the first after a three-month, self-imposed seclusion from public life since January 20 - were broadcast live on cable television and generated a lively conversation on Twitter.

The event was a homecoming for Obama, who taught constitutional law, voting rights, and racism and the law at the University of Chicago Law School for more than a decade before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

While announcing his renewed commitment to the American people, Obama also repeatedly stressed the importance of encouraging young people to get involved in politics, blaming poor leadership for stunted economic and social progress.

"The way Obama managed his presidency compared to the current presidency is making some people who didn't support him reconsider his presidency in a positive way", Ms MacManus said.

"All these problems are serious, they are daunting, but they are not insoluble", he said.

A lot of young people, he said, "feel as if their involvement would not make a difference".

Obama also spoke up when his billionaire successor accused him of personally ordering the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Like many of Obama's speeches, his address at the University of Chicago was one of frank and honest discussion.

That silence comes in the face of accusations by Trump on everything from Syria, with the Republican all but accusing Obama of bearing responsibility for chemical weapons attacks by the Damascus regime, to gang violence in America.

The CRED program, located in the Roseland/Pullman neighborhood in the city's South Side where Obama started as a community organizer at age 25, provides job skills and employment opportunities for at-risk youth.

He has focused on building his foundation and starting to write his memoir, along with taking some holiday time in Palm Springs, California and the British Virgin Islands, where he spent time with billionaire businessman Richard Branson, and on the yacht of music mogul David Geffen near the island of Moorea in French Polynesia.

  • Zachary Reyes