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Barack Obama responds to critics who claim he didn’t do enough for Black Americans

The former president has been criticized by those who say he should have done more for Black Americans. Here’s what he had to say.

Barack Obama Vincent Thian/AP

In the wake of years-long inquistion and backlash regarding the things he accomplished for Black America during his presidency, Barack Obama has addressed his critics. In a recent interview with “The Breakfast Club,” co-hosts Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy grilled the former president about his time in office and his thoughts on those who claim he didn’t do enough for Black people.

“I understand it because when I got elected, there was so much excitement and hope. And I also think we generally view the presidency almost like a monarchy in the sense of [people think] once the president is there, he can do whatever needs to get done, and if he’s not doing it, it must be because he didn’t want to do it,” he said of his critics. “The good news for me was that I was very confident about what I’ve done for Black folks because I have the statistics to prove it.”

Obama maintained that many of his policies were “targeted toward people most in need” —most of whom were African American— and listed some his administration’s accomplishments.

“By the time I left office, you had seen three million African Americans that have healthcare that didn’t have it before,” he began. “You had seen the incarceration rate — the number of Black folks in prison — drop for the first time in years. You had seen the juvenile correction system, 30% fewer people in there. You had seen Black poverty to its lowest level since 1968. You had seen Black businesses rise. You had seen Black income go up,” he continued, confidently adding his belief that “millions of Black folks were better off” after his presidency than they were when he entered the White House.

Amid laying out his wins as president, he noted that Republicans blocked “him from doing everything he wanted to do” with Obamacare, resulting in millions of upset and uninsured Americans. Despite his shortcomings — which he explains are inevitable as presidents take on the damage of their predecessors and go through checks and balances — he believes his administration did their best.

“The truth of the matter is, at the end of the day, there is no way in eight years to make up for 200 years,” Obama shared. “The way I’ve been describing it, ‘cause it’s very much how I understand the presidency now, you’re like a relay runner. You’re getting the baton from somebody else, and all you can do is run your stage of the race, and then you pass it on to the next person. And on either side, who you got it from and who you’re passing it to, they may not have the same priorities as you do. You know you’re not going to get everything done that you need to get done, but what you’ve got to do is do your best to get as much done as possible, and I think that’s what we did.”

Check out the full interview below.

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