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Obama criticises US virus response in online graduation speech

Mr Obama did not name President Donald Trump or any other federal or state officials.

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Barack Obama spoke during “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour livestreaming event for historically black colleges and universities broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (Jason DeCrow/AP)

Barack Obama spoke during “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour livestreaming event for historically black colleges and universities broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (Jason DeCrow/AP)

Barack Obama spoke during “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour livestreaming event for historically black colleges and universities broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (Jason DeCrow/AP)

Former president Barack Obama has criticised some officials overseeing the coronavirus response, telling college graduates that the pandemic shows many “aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Mr Obama spoke on Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition, a two-hour livestreaming event for historically black colleges and universities broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

His remarks were surprisingly political and touched on current events beyond the virus and its social and economic impacts.

“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” he said.

“A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Mr Obama did not name President Donald Trump or any other federal or state officials.

As he congratulated graduates and commiserated over the difficult world they face, the former president noted the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was killed while jogging on a residential street in Georgia in February.

We see it in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioningBarack Obama

“Let’s be honest: A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communicates have historically had to deal with in this country,” Mr Obama said.

“We see it in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning.”

Mr Obama went on to deliver a televised prime-time commencement address for the high school Class of 2020 in which he urged the young graduates to be unafraid despite the current challenges facing the nation and to strive to be part of a diverse community.

“Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us — sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed — and set the world on a different path,” he said.

PA