NYTimes | President Obama offered an indirect critique of the Black Lives Matter movement during a town-hall-style event here on Saturday, encouraging activists to engage with the political process and cautioning them that social change can be a slow and incremental process.
At a meeting with young people on the second day of his visit to Europe, during which he championed a new trade deal between the United States and the European Union, the president took questions on a variety of topics, including Northern Ireland, transgender rights and racial profiling.
After responding to a questioner who suggested that his administration had not done enough to address racial profiling at airports — a practice that Mr. Obama said he adamantly opposed — the president turned his attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.
He praised the movement as “really effective in bringing attention to problems,” but said young activists should be more willing to work with political leaders to craft solutions instead of criticizing from outside the political process.
“Once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention and shined a spotlight, and elected officials or people who are in a position to start bringing about change are ready to sit down with you, then you can’t just keep on yelling at them,” Mr. Obama said.
“And you can’t refuse to meet because that might compromise the purity of your position,” he continued. “The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room, and then to start trying to figure out how is this problem going to be solved.”