PRESIDENT OBAMA'S farewell to America on Tuesday struck a familiar tone -- one of hope and change.
Obama, standing before thousands in his home town of Chicago, reflected on his origins as a community organizer, his eight years in the White House, and his hopes for the country going forward under the direction of his successor.
Arguing his faith in America had been confirmed by his time in office, Obama said he ends his tenure inspired by America's "boundless capacity" for reinvention,and declared that, "The future should be ours.
"It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy, to embrace the joyous task we've been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours," Obama said as he bid an emotional goodbye to the American people. "I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change -- but in yours."
"After eight years as your President, I still believe that," Obama said. "And it's not just my belief. It's the beating heart of our American idea -- our bold experiment in self government."
The thousands gathered in Chicago's McCormick Place, a sprawling convention center along Lake Michigan, erupted in applause and interrupted the 44th President with chants of "Four more years!"
"I can't do that," Obama responded.
The speech had the air of a political rally, in contrast to most televised farewells made from the Oval Office.
In thanking his wife, Michelle, Obama grew emotional, wiping his eyes as he thanked the First Lady for taking on "a role you didn't ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor."
He called his daughters, Malia and Sasha, "amazing young
women." "You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I've done in my life, I'mmost proud to be your dad," he said, as Malia, 18, dabbed away tears. The White House said Sasha, 15, stayed in Washingt on due to a school exam.
He called Vice President Biden his "brother."
While Obama touted several major achievements of his presidency -- killing Osama Bin Laden, job creation, improving Cuban relations, marriage equality and Obamacare -- he stayed away from using the speech as a victory lap.
With a nod to Donald Trump's election, Obama acknowledged that the nation's progress has been "uneven." He said that for "every two steps forward, it often feels we takeonestep back."
But he said the country strives for "forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all,and not just some."
He said hopes that he would usherina postracial America were "neverrealistic."
Obama, 55, said that he's lived long enough to know race relations are better than they were 30 years ago. But added he knows "we'renot where weneedto be."
He admitted there is still work to be done in many areas, but lauded America's potential for greatness.
"That potential will be realized onlyif our demo cracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency o four people," he said.
The outgoing commander-in chief closed by reviving his campaign chant, "Yes we can," adding forthefirst time, "Yeswe did."
President Obama tears up (above) in speech Tuesday and hugs daughter Malia and wife Michelle (right) afterward.