‘Dear President Obama’

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Photo by Ben Stanfield via Flickr

The Crime Report is pleased to publish these (slightly edited and abridged) letters by prison inmates to outgoing President Obama, which were written for The Beat Within prison writers workshop.

Dear President Obama,

Thank you.  I personally feel like I am saying goodbye to a family member.  You have touched so many of us during your administration. When you historically came into office eight years ago, you brought so much hope to my community, to my friends, to the world.  Everyone was repping you. Posters, t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers everywhere!

President Obama's historic visit to El Reno Correctional Facility, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Photo courtesy White House

President Obama’s historic visit to El Reno Correctional Facility, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. White House photo.

I remember the excitement in my grandmother’s voice the day you won the presidency.  The cheering from my mother to my brothers and sisters, to the banging of pots and pans, horns honking, people cheering all over, like it was New Year’s Day or the Fourth of July, when YOU, our first African American president, entered office.

Thank you for your great work and making America a better place for all.  Thank you for looking out for “ALL” people. Thank you for giving us youth of color the chance to believe we too could be great-great leaders in our communities, if not the world! You, President Obama will always be an inspiration to all of us.  Your leadership is like no other and for that I am grateful.

I don’t know what it was like for you to deal with the conservatives who did everything in their power to make your choices for change challenging.  We can only imagine if you had a Senate, a Congress that supported your vision.  I know our country would not be in the position it is today, with the hateful Trump regime taking over, but it is what it is and we must not rest!

I am sorry, as [are] most good-thinking Americans, that your legacy will be stained by the arrogant and hateful Trump.  I am sure you [are] too, [and] that “the people” will be heard with every controversial move this new administration makes in its attempt to tarnish your dedicated work.  I personally am ready to hit the ground running, starting with this letter to you. When I am free I will continue to push my peers and my community to fight the power.

Thank you, President Obama, you are truly a class act. I will miss you and your family.  I know in time, we all will look back, given the times, and agree you were one of, if not the greatest, American president ever!!

I’ll be following you and looking to hear more from you once you leave office.  You are my idol and inspiration. With love and respect to you and your family. We Americans who believe, will continue the good fight in your name.

-Young D, Solano

Dear President Obama

You have inspired many people to follow their dreams. Many people looked to you as a form of hope and with that said, you have influenced and accomplished many wonderful things for the United States. You have done an outstanding job as president. You have taken the United States out of many problems many other presidents got us into.

Thank you for ending the war in Iraq that lasted a total of ten years. You also eliminated Osama Bin Laden.

I believe you’re a really good-hearted person because you reversed Bush’s torture policies.

You’re a really good president. You helped veterans find jobs and schools. You really inspired me to not let diversity keep me from doing a lot of things. As a Latina, I am considered a minority but that won’t stop me from accomplishing my dreams. I am a teen mother and will later be a Judge for the Superior Court.

You are an amazing person. Thank you for trying your hardest to fix the US. You would be re-elected if it were possible because you had a good turn in office.

 -Jennifer, Los Angeles

Dear President Obama,

You have gone above and beyond for our nation and our country. You put your life on the line every time you walk outside of the White House. Thank you for treating our nation the way it should be treated from 2008 to 2016. There has been a great change in our country. Thank you for setting an example for me and everybody else in society. You set the right example for us all. You showed us what we could become one day.

I want to say thank you for all your wisdom and courage you gave us, especially me. You have given me hope for this country when I had little to none left. Thank you for giving us the Kodak picture memory of how a first family should be. You also gave me an image of how I want family to look like: strong, motivated, resilient, and wise. Thank you for getting our powerful and dedicated troops home, and having the prison numbers drop tremendously. I just want to say thank you. Sincerely,

-Kaylen, Los Angeles

Hello Mr. President,

Well, to start off my name is Kevin. [I’m] writing from Juvenile Hall and I wanted to talk to you about immigration problems. It’s really important to me first of all because I don’t have my parents here in the USA. My mom, dad, three little sisters, and my baby brother that I haven’t met personally yet. I haven’t seen them in three years.

I also just had a car accident about a year ago, had brain surgery, and had a 3% chance of me living and I still couldn’t have my mom by my side. I really need her and miss her a lot. I wanted to see if you could bring them back and give them citizenship please, Mr. President. Thank you.

 -Kevin, San Bernardino

 Dear Mr. President,

[The writer imagines that he is sending a letter to Barack Obama decades after he left juvenile detention]

Hello my fellow Americans my name is Chance and I am here to tell you about my life as a 64-year-old man.  Throughout my life I’ve had many careers. I’ve been an author, an owner of a car company, a youth advocate, and am currently a lawyer.

Many things have helped shaped me. I was in a juvenile detention facility and that made me want to be a youth advocate. Barack Obama was president back when I was 14 and he gave me the hope to try and make it in life.

I made it past high school and went to UC Davis and got my degree in business and law. I bought a house in 2025 for my family to live in once I pass on. I used to tell people when I said I was going to be a lawyer [that]  “I’m just out here trying to turn dreams into reality” and that’s what I did. I never quit and stayed focused and my dream came true.

Photo by Jeff Milner via Flickr

Photo by Jeff Milner via Flickr

America was at its highest point economically in 2020. All the things I dreamt about came into reality. Flying cars were around, cash was out of the picture it was all credit cards.  I became a lawyer to help people that were in tough situations like I once was.  I made quite a good fortune and am now currently living in a 2 story house with my wife and kids.

America has also aged over time as well and a Black woman is president. Well I’m getting too old to keep telling my stories so bye America and stay positive.

 -Chance, Fresno

Dear Obama

Thank you for ObamaCare and ObamaPhones, aka trap phones. Thank you for changing a lot of laws. Thank you for releasing a lot of people from prison.

Lastly, why can’t we vote when we’ve got felonies?

-Raymond, Alameda

Dear Obama,

I just wanted to say thank you for helping my country be a better place. From 2008 to 2016 you helped a lot and did a lot for families and many people. We couldn’t have gotten this far without your support for this country. Thanks a lot and good luck.

-Cynthia, Alameda

 Dear President Obama,

Thanks for all the programs you made to support the economy and to help out immigration. You were a great leader. You were never racist and you never thought you were better because you had money.

Photo by US Army via Flickr

Photo by US Army via Flickr

You taught us the true meaning of equality, unlike Donald Trump. …I want to change my life and become someone here in America. I want to become a cop or a nurse. I feel as if it would not be fair if Trump won because I wouldn’t get the opportunity to show how successful I can become here in America.

I feel that your last eight years as president has been a blessing. Thanks for being considerate and treating everyone equally. PS I hope you read this.

 -Yanely, Marin


Barack and Michelle Obama. Photo by Pete Souza/The White House

Barack and Michelle Obama. Photo by Pete Souza/The White House

A Letter to Obama

My granny is a huge fan. We both are. We wonder why Michelle Obama doesn’t run for president? It wouldn’t just help us, it would put more respect on your name…. If selected, she would be an amazing president.

 -Foreignn, Alameda

Dear Mr. President Obama,

Hello to you and I have faith that all is well with you and your family.  It was an honor to be having….our first  black president. I must admit that you had a pretty good run.  My name is Michael Mackey and I’m writing to you to share my thoughts about (standing on my own) and human principles.

A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.  Obama, if you had to tell someone in the ten words or less what do you stand for in life, what would you say?  It’s a good thing to talk about the liberation of all colored people, but what do you stand for?  The freedom of political prisoners?  Better or decent housing for people?  Equal distribution of food and natural resources?  An end to all wars and warlike aggressions?

That’s honorable and a good thing to have a cause. Me myself and what I stand for is education, being able to stand on my own two feet and live a simple life style.  And much more, but that would take too long to write down.  More battles are lost in the world because of weary soldiers then that of lack of cause.

So I ask again, what do you stand for?  If I was to take a guess, I would say a peace of mind, radiant health, truth and honesty. A viable use of our God-given talents, rights and abilities and just plain old love.  So whenever our lower class society is able to stand on well-cared-for and rested feet, we will be victorious in any cause.

-Michael Mackey, San Quentin State Prison

Dear Mr. President

History has been made. You put “us” on the map once and for all. You gave it all you had. Oh what we would give to have you another term. Success is what you made in more than one aspect. You sure did give us hope and paved our path that headed forward and towards success. Felt like we mattered and like our voice mattered. Yes, as indebted to the system my life is and has been, the opportunities provided were slim to bare,  to none.  I really wished there had been a chance to meet you face to face. That would have been so cool and such a blessing.

As a native, born and raised here in the city of Frisco (San Francisco), yet struggling so tough and hard. I’ve made a name for myself but not in a successful way. If given the opportunity to talk and meet you, such a blessing that would be.  You have been great and all your work will definitely not go unforgotten or unseen….

I really hate to see you go and wish you could be president longer, however, you put it down for our nation and you’ve made a mark most definitely…With all respect and gratitude Mr. President. Hats off and top salute to you.

 -Veronica Barahona, San Francisco County Jail

Dear Mr. President Obama

Photo by Leon Fishman via Flickr

Photo by Leon Fishman via Flickr

Thank you for your service as the first African-American President of the United States of America. My father raised me to believe that I could be anything, if I worked twice as hard as others (barring the president). Because of his experiences with racial inequalities, my father did not fully embrace the “American Dream.” He overcame many obstacles before he died in 2002, unfortunately he never saw you represent our country back to back.

My daughter, Brittany, is the same age as your oldest daughter, so thank you for all you have done for the women in our lives.I am proud that despite all of the obstacles you faced in life, the economics of our nation, along with the political opposition, we are proud that you overcame for all Americans. History will shine the light of truth on your intentions. Of all the presidents in the past, the 44th president is the best. Again, thank you Mr. President Obama, for I have seen and now I believe.

-Eddie “Edito” DeWeaver, San Quentin State Prison

Photo by Carlos Pacheco via Flickr

Photo by Carlos Pacheco via Flickr

 Dear President Obama

Thank you. You have been a good president for our nation. I wish we could re-elect you, two more terms.  Thank you and God Bless the Obama family.

 –Victor A., San Francisco County Jail

 The above letters were provided by The Beat Within, a San Francisco prison writers workshop. Some have been abridged slightly for space. Readers’ comments welcome.




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