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Obama summit kicks off, reaffirms ‘the power of the people’

Former President Barack Obama, right, and former first lady Michelle Obama listen to a speaker at the first session of the Obama Foundation Summit Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: ILCA105

Drawing civic leaders from around the world, the Obama Foundation on Tuesday kicked off its two-day summit with a performance from students at the People’s School of Music and “social spaces” that invited people to reflect on their personal aspirations.

The summit’s first set of speakers focused on the path forward through social media, economic mobility and grassroots organizing — all key facets of former President Barack Obama’s legacy.

Many talked about bridging divides in ways that invited debate, but Anand Giridharadas, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, reminded participants to not shut people out simply because their opinions may be different.

Invite them in, have difficult conversations but keeping moving forward, he said.

The theme of “we the people” permeated most speeches, as the speakers themselves reminded those present to remember their power to create change — which is one of the reasons they were chosen to attend.

“Ordinary people in local communities can do extraordinary things when given the chance,” Obama said.

Michelle Obama is joined by Prince Harry to talk to students at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago on Tuesday October 31, 2017. | Christopher Dilts | The Obama Foundation

Earlier Tuesday, Michelle Obama and Prince Harry visited Hyde Park Academy High School.

The summit will continue with a conversation between Mellody Hobson and the prince about youths driving community engagement and development.