9 Letters Obama Wrote To Ordinary People That Reflected The Best Of The America He Believed In

Obama received plenty of letters in the past few years. The ones he replied to spoke volumes about his character.

9 Letters Obama Wrote To Ordinary People That Reflected The Best Of The America He Believed In

If you had to pick the one person most caught off guard by Donald Trump's election, President Obama would be a strong contender for the title. Obama, who never quite viewed Trump as a legitimate threat to Hillary Clinton's chances at the ballot box, had frequently touted his deep belief in America's goodness, and that this goodness would ultimately triumph.

Obama's faith in Americans' virtuousness (particularly as someone who was loved and raised by white Americans), was behind his powerful message for "change" in 2007 — but it also likely led to his unwillingness to acknowledge just how fierce the backlash to a black president could be. In a remarkable piece entitled "My President Was Black" in The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote: 

Obama's greatest misstep was born directly out of his greatest insight. Only Obama, a black man who emerged from the best of white America, and thus could sincerely trust white America, could be so certain that he could achieve broad national appeal. And yet only a black man with that same biography could underestimate his opposition's resolve to destroy him.

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Yet for all that has been said and written about how Obama — whether he was indirectly responsible for the rising wave of white anger that Trump rode to victory; whether his foreign policy was more harmful than not; whether his executive powers overreached against a stubborn GOP-led Congress — that Obama truly believed in his fellow Americans' goodness is undeniable.

And he reflected that goodness in himself, too. As his presidency wraps up its final month, there have been numerous examples of the president's achievements and efforts that helped push the country towards greater progress. But none quite capture Obama's character or humanity. 

The White House, however, has kept a record of it. It is unofficial custom for the president to respond to some of the letters written to him, but the Obama administration took that a step further by sharing the correspondence he's had with some of them on a Tumblr website. While there are many people who write to Obama about a whole host of issues, the posts that include his responses reveal a president at once optimistic and graceful, who reflected the best of the America that he believed in.  

1. His letter to a Syrian refugee girl.

2. His heartfelt answer to a public school teacher with two black sons with special needs.

3. His advice on how to find compromise and unity in politics (and in dating).

4. His reply to "can girls change the world?"

5. His letter to 8-year-old Mari Copeny, or "Miss Little Flint," who he eventually met in Flint, Mi.

6. His plan to boost rural communities in America.

7. His reply to a young Native American woman who thanked him for doing for them "what no president has done before."

8. His answer to an 11-year-old girl who wrote to him about her father in prison.

9. His response to a Cuban woman who invited him over for coffee in her Havana home.

Cover image via Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock.com

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