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Obama criticises US coronavirus response in online graduation speech

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Obama criticises US coronavirus response in online graduation speech
Copyright  AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, FILE
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Former US President Barack Obama criticised the US government's coronavirus response in an online graduation speech.

"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,” Obama said. “A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Obama was speaking during a graduation livestream for Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs), schools established before the US Civil Rights Act in 1964.

The event, “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” featured many black celebrities and politicians. It was hosted by comedian Kevin Hart.

Obama's speech also highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on black communities, which have seen higher contraction and death rates from the virus.

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

The former US president was referring to the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery who was killed while jogging in February.

The death has caused outrage after a video surfaced that appeared to show the shooting by two white men.

“Injustice like this isn't new," Obama said. “What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing, that the old ways of doing things don’t work."

“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you," he said.

Obama has kept a low profile since leaving office after the 2016 election but has lately criticised the Trump administration ahead of the US' November presidential election.