#TBT: Obama tells grads to 'shape' America's destiny

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Story highlights

  • Presidents frequently give commencement addresses
  • The speeches are often inspiring (and who couldn't use some inspiration)
  • Take a look at some highlights from Obama's 2010 University of Michigan address

Washington (CNN)Later this month, President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver the Liberty University commencement address, continuing a tradition of presidential commencement addresses spanning back decades.

Each Thursday in May, our #TBT series will highlight some of the best commencement addresses delivered by recent commanders in chief. Because newly minted college grads aren't the only ones who need inspiration, right?
President Barack Obama delivered more than 20 commencement addresses during his time in office, of which this speech at the University of Michigan in 2010 was one of his most memorable. In it, he addressed the vitriolic state of politics and the duty of good citizens to get involved and stay aware.
Here are five of the excerpts from Obama's address:
  • "So before we get too down on the current state of our politics, we need to remember our history. The great debates of the past all stirred great passion. They all made some angry. What is amazing is that despite all the conflict, despite all its flaws and frustrations, our experiment in democracy has worked better than any other form of government on Earth."
  • "Through revolution and civil war, our democracy has survived. Through depression and world war, it has prevailed. Through periods of great social and economic unrest, from civil rights to women's rights, it has allowed us slowly, and sometimes painfully, to move towards a more perfect union."
  • "For all the arguments and all the doubts and all the cynicism that's out there today, we should never forget that as Americans, we enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than citizens in any other nation on Earth. We are free to speak our mind and worship as we please; to choose our leaders and criticize them if they let us down. We have the chance to get an education, work hard and give our children a better life."
  • "None of this came easy. None of it was preordained. The men and women who sat in your chairs 10 years ago and 50 years ago and 100 years ago -- they made America possible. And there is no guarantee that the graduates who will sit here in 10 or 50 or 100 years from now will enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that we do. America's success has never been a given. Our nation's destiny has never been certain."
  • "That is what makes us American -- our ability at the end of the day to look past all of our differences and all of our disagreements and still forge a common future. That task is now in your hands, as is the answer to the question posed at this university half a century ago about whether a free society can still compete."