“We should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it,” he wrote in a post on Medium on Monday.
In recent appearances, Mr. Obama has become more forceful in his criticism of the White House, hammering Mr. Trump’s actions without invoking his successor’s name. Mr. Obama rebuked the current administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as “chaotic” and questioned Mr. Trump’s commitment to the “rule of law” in a call with former members of his White House team last month.
For all his outward calm, Mr. Obama’s passions are running high, and the former president is finding it harder to stay on script, friends said. Over the last few days, he has been working the phones with close associates, including Mr. Holder, and strategizing about the best way to address the issues without inflaming the crisis.
On Tuesday, a Minneapolis radio station reported that Secret Service officials were making preliminary preparations for a high-level visitor, perhaps Mr. Obama. But people close to the former president said he had no intention of traveling there this week — although they did not rule out Mr. Obama’s participation in related events in the future.
Shortly before Mr. Obama spoke on Wednesday, former President Jimmy Carter issued a statement calling for peaceful protest and systemic change. “As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African-Americans,” the 95-year-old former president wrote. “We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.”
Those comments came a day after another former president also presented an alternative vision of the protests to Mr. Trump. In a lengthy statement, former President George W. Bush expressed solidarity with the demonstrators in the streets and, without naming the incumbent president, warned against trying to suppress the protests.
“It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future,” Mr. Bush said on Tuesday. “This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society? The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving.”