At a youth town hall in London Saturday, President Obama said that activists, specifically Black Lives Matter activists, need to be willing to compromise and that sometimes, the tone of the activism can turn people off to their message.
While answering questions from students and young people, Obama praised the Black Lives Matter movement for bringing to light the issues of police brutality and racial discrimination, but he says, their tone can mean that sometimes the message gets lost.
“You can’t just keep on yelling at them and you can’t refuse to meet because that might compromise the purity of your position,” Obama said. “The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room and then start trying to figure out how is this problem going to be solved. You then have a responsibility to prepare an agenda that is achievable —that can institutionalize the changes you seek and to engage the other side.”
Obama brought up compromise often in his speech, imploring youth activists and political hopefuls to learn how to compromise and to not see opponents or those on the other side of the aisle as enemies.
“If you spend time with people who just agree with you on any particular issue, you become even more extreme in your convictions because you’re never contradicted and everyone just mutually reinforces their perspective,” he said. “That’s why I think it is so important for all the young people here to seek out people who don’t agree with you.