President Obama is already making plans for when he leaves the White House, and David Letterman is part of them.
During his eighth and final visit to the Late Show Monday night, the president joked with the longtime host that he’d be up to play some Dominoes with Letterman after he leaves the White House and maybe grab a cup of coffee.
“We could go to the local Starbucks, swap stories,” Obama said, laughing.
Obama recently alluded to his post-presidency plans, saying he’ll focus on bringing businesses to communities that need it and “trying to find ways to help people, help young people get educations, and help people get jobs.” But before he can do any of that, he has to deal with Baltimore.
“For far too long, for decades, you have a situation in which too many communities don’t have a relationship or trust with police,” Obama said Monday night, referring to recent unrest in the city following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died in police custody last month. “It creates an environment in the community where they feel as if, rather than being protected and served, they’re the targets of arbitrary arrests or stops.”
Obama said that situations like the one in Baltimore are “not just a policing problem,” reiterating remarks from his speech at Lehman College earlier in the day, where he introduced a new nonprofit that invests in young minorities and communities in hopes of reducing the racial gap in the economy.
“What you have is pockets of poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunity all across this country,” Obama said. “Too often we ignore those pockets until something happens and then we act surprised.”
On whether race relations are better today, Obama said they are, adding that “what’s happened is that we know more today than we did.” When asked if racism is a factor in what has happened in Baltimore, Ferguson, and other cities, Obama said it’s a “residual factor and buildup of history” but that society has made “extraordinary” strides.
“I’m a testament to that,” he added.
Obama closed the show with praise for Letterman, who leaves the show later this month. “The country, I think, has after a tough day at the office or coming home from work, knowing you’ve been there to give us a little bit of joy, a little bit of laughter, it has meant so much,” he said. “You’re a part of all of us.”
Letterman steps down as host of the Late Show on May 20 after more than 30 years in late-night television. He’ll be replaced by Comedy Central funnyman Stephen Colbert. Over the years, guests have included several former presidents, presidential candidates, vice presidents, and first ladies. Obama was the first sitting president to appear on the show, in 2009.