Former President Barack Obama joined The Breakfast Club to promote his new memoir, A Promised Land. The former Commander in Chief talked about the pressures of marriage and the current issues that the United States faces.
While reflecting on his time in office, Obama was asked his thoughts about being criticized for not doing enough for African Americans during his two terms. He initially responded by acknowledging the nation's high hopes and people's misconceptions about the role of the presidency.
"I understand it because when I got elected, there was so much excitement and hope," Obama said. "And I also think we generally viewed the presidency as almost like a monarchy. In the sense of, 'once the President is there he can just do whatever he needs to get done and if he's not doing it then it must be because he didn't want to do.'"
He added that he accepts the criticism because that's bound to happen when working in public service. Obama also compared his approach to Donald Trump's by pointing out Trump's disregard for the law and Constitution in order to achieve his goals.
However, the former president stated that he was satisfied with what he had done for Blacks during his presidency. According to Obama, the incarceration rate declined partly due to criminal justice reforms like the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. He added that 30 percent fewer people were in the juvenile correction system and Black poverty dropped to its lowest level since 1968.
He further explained that Black businesses and income rose during his time in office and three million African Americans received healthcare who didn't have it before.
After providing his response, Charlamagne questioned him further about what was done specifically for Blacks to weed out systemic racism and "not the 'rising tide lifts all boats types of rhetoric.'"
"What I'm saying Charlamagne is, Black poverty dropped faster than everybody else," Obama responded. "Black incomes went up more than a lot of other folks. So, the issue is sometimes we just didn't go around advertising that because once again, the goal here is to build coalitions where everybody is getting something so that they all feel like they've got a stake in it."
Obama added that many of his policies were targeted towards people most in need, who were disproportionately African American. He concluded his response by stating, "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."