President Barack Obama delivers the keynote speech at the Phoenix Awards dinner during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. on Sept. 17. Photo by Travis Riddick

President Barack Obama poured his heart out Saturday to fellow constituents and black Americans at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner, issuing a fervent call to action to hit the polls on Election Day in November.

Obama, speaking at the Phoenix Awards, the foundation’s annual event honoring impactful black leaders, urged conscious citizens to vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump as his successor, a role he said the GOP nominee is woefully inadequate to handle.

“If I hear anybody saying their vote does not matter, that it doesn’t matter who we elect, read up on your history — it matters,” Obama said. “We’ve got to get people to vote. I will consider it a personal insult — an insult to my legacy — if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good sendoff? Go vote.”

Though Obama’s term is almost finished, he stressed that black American growth does not end with his presidency.

“If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake,” he said. “All the progress we’ve made is at stake in this election. My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot.”

Despite some of Trump’s less desirable, oft-perceived racist past statements, a recent voter poll has him with a 47.2 percent lead over Clinton’s 41.2 percent, according to The New York Times.

With nearly 20 percent of black voters currently siding with Trump — a 16.5 percentage-point increase within the past two weeks — and millennials (ages 18-34) unsure of Clinton, Obama gave a call to public attention regarding Trump.

“He’s somebody who has fought against civil rights and fought against equality and who has shown no regard for working people most of his life,” Obama said.

With a major theme of mass incarceration and excessive police violence, Obama implored citizens to consider what is at stake.

“Tolerance is on the ballot,” he said. “Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration, that’s on the ballot right now.”

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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