In a hopeful speech, Obama said that the significant events over the last months, including the protests over the killing of Floyd and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, represent "the kinds of epic changes ... in our country that are as profound as anything I have seen in my lifetime."
"I know enough about that history to say: There is something different here," Obama said, referring back to the protests of the 1960s. "You look at those protest and that was a far more representative cross section of America out on the streets, peacefully protesting, who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they have seen. That didn't exist back in the 1960s, that kind of broad collation."
Obama, speaking after more than a week of protests have gripped the nation, also urged protesters to know that hitting the streets is not enough, urging them to also show up to vote in November.
"I've been hearing a little bit of chatter... voting vs. protest. Politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action," Obama said. "This is not an either or. This is a both and. To bring about real change, we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that can be implemented."
Those comments mark Obama's first time addressing Floyd's death on camera, via the video-conferencing service Zoom. In recent days, he has addressed it on social media as well as a lengthy Medium post.
After those opening remarks, Obama will participate in a panel discussion, which the aide said is expected to center on changes to policing and other issues related to law enforcement.