Whether it’s starting a business, or running for office, or raising a amazing family, remember that making your mark on the world is hard. It takes patience. It takes commitment. It comes with plenty of setbacks and it comes with plenty of failures.
But whenever you feel that creeping cynicism, whenever you hear those voices say you can’t make a difference, whenever somebody tells you to set your sights lower—the trajectory of this country should give you hope. Previous generations should give you hope. What young generations have done before should give you hope.
Young folks who marched and mobilized and stood up and sat in, from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, didn’t just do it for themselves; they did it for other people. That’s how we achieved women’s rights. That’s how we achieved voting rights. That’s how we achieved workers’ rights. That’s how we achieved gay rights. That’s how we’ve made this Union more perfect.
And if you’re willing to do your part now, if you’re willing to reach up and close that gap between what America is and what America should be, I want you to know that I will be right there with you. If you are ready to fight for that brilliant, radically simple idea of America that no matter who you are or what you look like, no matter who you love or what God you worship, you can still pursue your own happiness, I will join you every step of the way.”
—President Obama, delivering the commencement address today at Barnard College