'Hope' Poster Artist Shares What Obama Told Him In The Oval Office After Trump's Victory

“We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back. And that's OK.”

It was artist Shepard Fairey's 2008 tri-tone portrait of Barack Obama — paired with the tagline "Hope" — that became emblematic of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. So it was only fitting that Obama invited Fairey to the Oval Office on November 9, 2016, after the next president had been chosen.


Before the election, Fairey thought he and Obama would be celebrating former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's victory. When then-candidate Donald Trump was elected instead, Fairey assumed his Oval Office visit would be canceled. It wasn't, an aide told Fairey via email, so he went with his wife and daughters to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — even though he was, as he recently revealed to CNN, struggling with the election results.

Fairey had run out of hope, but Obama hadn't. He was "dignified, composed, encouraging, everything that you would want someone to be under pressure," Fairey told CNN.

Progress isn't a straight line, Obama told the family, according to the news outlet's story. It zigs and zags. There are setbacks. But he had faith in American youth, and he remained optimistic the future would turn out OK.

Those remarks mirror Obama's speech in the White House's Rose Garden that same day, when he told reporters that loss is as much a part of democracy as victory. "We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back. And that's OK," he said. "The point, though, is that we all go forward. With the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens. Because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy."

Obama even expressed similar optimism more than a decade ago, during a 2006 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. "If you think about this country, what's happened is typically that we've gone in spurts," he said at the time. "Sometimes we make progress — the Civil Rights Movement or abolition — and then sometimes we go into dark times. But the general trajectory is upward."

Just before Trump's inauguration and the Women's March, Fairey released another striking image that soon went viral: a woman in an American flag hijab alongside the words, "We The People Are Greater Than Fear."

Perhaps he wouldn't have been so inspired had Obama not reminded him that hope wasn't lost. "It was a simple message," Fairey said. "But I agree with it."

Cover image via George Koroneos/ Evan El-Amin / Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com.


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