1. “A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

2. “Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”

3. “I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children—how full they make my heart.”

4. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

5. “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”

6. “In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

7. “No, you can’t deny women their basic rights and pretend it’s about your religious freedom.”

8. “It is that fundamental belief—I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper—that makes this country work.”

9. “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.”

10. “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America—there’s the United States of America.”

11. “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself, and it will leave you unfulfilled.”

12. “In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.”

13. “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

14. “Religious freedom doesn’t mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs.”

15. “Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

16. “We don’t ask you to believe in our ability to bring change. Rather, we ask you to believe in yours.”

17. “I’m inspired by the people I meet in my travels—hearing their stories, seeing the hardships they overcome, their fundamental optimism and decency.”

18. “I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using the government to impose anybody’s religious beliefs—including my own—on nonbelievers.”

19. “It’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”


20. “Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not, it takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way.”

21. “Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.”

22. “We think of faith as a source of comfort and understanding, but find our expressions of faith sowing division. We believe ourselves to be a tolerant people even as racial, religious, and cultural tensions roil the landscape.”

23. “My identity might begin with the fact of my race, but it didn’t. It couldn’t end there. At least, that’s what I would choose to believe.”

24. “Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up.”

25. “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

26. “Don’t tell me we can’t change. Yes, we can. Yes, we can change. Yes, we can.”

27. “Change is never easy, but always possible.”

28. “At the moment that we persuade a child—any child—to cross that threshold, that threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better.”

29. “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.”

30. “The emotions between the races could never be pure; even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves.”

31. “You think you have control, but you are like a fly in somebody else’s web.”

32. “America is big enough to accommodate all their dreams.”

33. “It is that courage that Africa most desperately needs.”

34. “You’ve tapped into some collective spirit, a thing we all know and wish for—a sense of connection that overrides our differences and replaces them with a giant swell of possibility. And like all things that matter most, you know the moment is fleeting and that soon the spell will be broken.”

35. “We have a choice in this country.”

36. “To be black was to be the beneficiary of a great inheritance, a special destiny, glorious burdens that only we were strong enough to bear.”

37. “I’m asking you to believe—not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington, I’m asking you to believe in yours.”

38. “No one’s written your destiny for you, because here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.”

39. “We cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself.”


40. “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”

41. “You can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you.”

42. “A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.”

43. “It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”

44. “Enthusiasm makes up for a host of deficiencies.”

45. “Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends—honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, and patriotism—these things are old. These things are true.”

46. “I think perhaps education doesn’t do us much good unless it is mixed with sweat.”

47. “We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other human beings.”

48. “There is no excuse for not trying.”

49. “Let me tell you something. I’m from Chicago. I don’t break.”

50. “Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart.”

51. “The truth is, I’ve never been a big believer in destiny. I worry that resignation in the down-and-out and complacency among the powerful.”

52. “I experienced failure and learned to buck up so I could rally those who’d put their trust in me. I suffered and insults often enough to stop fearing them. In other words, I grew up—and got my sense of humor back.”

53. “I thought I could start over, you see. But now I know you can never start over. Not really.”

54. “Make a way out of no way.”

55. “The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart—not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”

56. “Have you ever noticed that if there’s a hard way and an easy way, you choose the hard way every time? Why do you think that is?”

57. “At the end of the day, the circumstances of your life—what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home—none of that is an excuse.”

58. “Either you seize what may turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide you’re willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed you by.”

59. “Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.”

60. “Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight.”

61. “Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.”

62. “Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us—by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”

63. “While we breathe, we will hope.”

64. “Hope—hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us—a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.”

65. “They are out there, I think to myself, those ordinary citizens who have grown up in the midst of all the political and cultural battles, but who have found a way-in their own lives, at least to make peace with their neighbors, and themselves.”

66. “Each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness. No one deserves to be bullied.”

67. “We hang on to our values, even if they seem at times tarnished and worn; even if, as a nation and in our own lives, we have them more often that we care to remember. What else is there to guide us?”

68. “We may come from different places and have different stories, but we share common hopes, and one very American dream.”

69. “The best anti-poverty program is a world-class education.”

70. “To be known. To be heard. To have one’s unique identity recognized and seen as worthy. It was a universal human desire, I thought, as true for nations and peoples as it was for individuals.”

71. “There’s nobody to guide through the process of becoming a man—to explain to them the meaning of manhood, and that’s a recipe for disaster.”

72. “Words do inspire.”

73. “It was as if he had come to mistrust words somehow. Words, and the sentiments words carried.”

74. “Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.”

75. “All the education and good intentions in the world couldn’t help plug up the holes in the universe or give you the power to change its blind, mindless course.”

76. “But you don’t choose the time. The time chooses you.”

77. “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

78. “I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope.”

79. “Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost; a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”

80. “Our stories may be singular, but our destination is shared.”

81. “Why can’t I just eat my waffle?”

82. “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.”

83. “More than a building that houses books and data, the library has always been a window to a larger world—a place where we’ve always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward.”

84. “You might be locked in a world not of your own making, but you still have a claim on how it is shaped. You still have responsibilities.”

85. “We may not be able to stop evil in the world, but how we treat one another is entirely up to us.”

86. “All too rarely do I hear people asking just what it is that we’ve done to make so many children’s hearts so hard, or what collectively we might do to right their moral compass—what values we must live by.”

87. “There are people in the world who think only about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want.”

88. “Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom.”

89. “We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know God’s plan for us.”

90. “What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and love, and joy.”

91. “We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves.”

92. “I confess to wincing every so often at a poorly chosen word, a mangled sentence, an expression of emotion that seems indulgent or overly practiced. I have the urge to cut the book by fifty pages or so, possessed as I am with a keener appreciation for brevity.”

93. “My little girls can break my heart. They can make me cry just looking at them eating their string beans.”

94. “Each path to knowledge involves different rules and these rules are not interchangeable.”

95. “This shit would be really interesting if we weren’t in the middle of it.”

96. “Either grab a drink and sit down with us or get the fuck out of here.”

97. “Where there is no experience, the wise man is silent.”

98. “I’d met my share of highly credentialed, high-IQ morons.”

99. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

100. “The worst thing that colonialism did was to cloud our view of our past.”

101. “The law is also memory; the law also records a long-running conversation—a nation arguing with its conscience.”

102. “No one is pro-abortion.”

103. “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy; tonight is your answer.”

104. “A nation that can’t control its energy sources can’t control its future.”

105. “We will outstretch our hand if you unclench your fist.”

106. “This election is about the past versus the future. It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today or whether we reach for a politics of common sense and innovation—a politics of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.”

107. “I wonder, sometimes, whether men and women in fact are capable of learning from history—whether we progress from one stage to the next in an upward course or whether we just ride the cycles of boom and bust, war and peace, ascent and decline.”

108. “What I can say for certain is that I’m not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America—not just for the sake of future generations of Americans but for all of humankind.”

109. “The world watches America—the only great power in history made up of people from every corner of the planet, comprising every race and faith and cultural practice—to see if our experiment in democracy can work. To see if we can do what no other nation has ever done. To see if we can actually live up to the meaning of our creed.”

110. “But you see, a rich country like America can perhaps afford to be stupid.”

111. “The American story has never been about things coming easy. It has been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard.”

112. “To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.”

113. “I wish the country had fewer lawyers and more engineers.”

114. “To all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.”

115. “That’s what the was teaching me, day by day—that the self-interest I was supposed to be looking for extended well beyond the immediacy of issues, that beneath the small talk and sketchy biographies and received opinions, people carried with them some central explanation of themselves.”

116. “What Washington needs is adult supervision.”

117. “Why shouldn’t we have the same courage and the confidence to talk to our enemies? That’s what strong countries do, that’s what strong presidents do, that’s what I’ll do when I’m president of the United States of America.”

118. “A nation ringed by walls will only imprison itself.”

119. “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.”

120. “If the people cannot their government to do the job for which it exists—to protect them and to promote their common welfare—all else is lost.”

121. “And it’s safe to assume that those in power would think longer and harder about launching a war if they envisioned their own sons and in harm’s way.”

122. “Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism.”

123. “America’s commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end.”

124. “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West—know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”

125. “In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.”

126. “Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.”

127. “It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things—some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor—who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”

128. “The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals—democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.”

129. “Although the principle of equality has always been self-evident, it has never been self-executing.”

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