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A Young Barack Obama's Advice For Having Hope In 'Dark Times'

The then-Senator shared his favorite quote, which he said helped him march through the darkness.

Long before Barack Obama ran a successful campaign for the White House based on hope, he was a senatorial candidate whose speech during the 2004 Democratic National Convention was all about the topic ― and it thrust him into the national spotlight. After being elected to the Senate, he continued his message in his second book, The Audacity of Hope, which he discussed in detail during a 2006 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” 

During that appearance, then-Sen. Obama of Illinois focused on the path that the country often follows.

“If you think about this country, what’s happened is typically that we’ve gone in spurts,” he said. “Sometimes we make progress ― the Civil Rights Movement or abolition ― and then sometimes we go into dark times.”

Even in such “dark times,” the future president said he remained hopeful, citing a quote that helped him march forward through the darkness. 

“The general trajectory [of our country] is upward,” he said. “One of my favorite sayings, as Martin Luther King once said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’”

Back then, Obama felt the country was experiencing troubling times, which he referred to as “a coarsening of the culture.” As Obama explained to Oprah, this coarsening impacted everyone from our youth to our politicians. 

“You see it in the highest reaches of government,” he said. “A sense that it’s more important to be powerful or to be wealthy than it is to do right.”

 Original airdate: Oct. 18, 2006

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