Barack Obama will give his final speech as President of the United States to thousands of well-wishers in Chicago tonight – the city where he celebrated his ascent to power eight years ago.
His speechwriters have been tasked with crafting an address that will feel bigger than politics and strike a chord with all Americans, including those who voted for Donald Trump.
In a Facebook post previewing his speech, Mr Obama wrote: We’ve run our leg in a long relay of progress, knowing that our work will always be unfinished. And we’ve reaffirmed the belief that we can make a difference with our own hands, in our own time.
Chicagoans braved harsh temperatures to queue for tickets to the now sold-out event, and the President’s farewell speech is due to begin at 2am UK time on Wednesday.
His lead speechwriter, Cody Keenan, said: It’s not going to be an anti-Trump speech, it’s not going to be a red meat, rabble rousing thing, it will be statesmanlike but it will also be true to him. It will tell a story.
Mr Obama is leaving office as a relatively popular president – with opinion polls giving him a favourability rating among voters of between 55% and 57%.
But Americans remain deeply divided about his legacy.
Fewer than half say they are better off than they were when the Democrat entered the White House in 2009 – and two-thirds of Americans believe he was unable to keep his election promises.
Presidential farewell speeches have been a tradition throughout America’s history – but according to Mr Keenan, every departing leader takes a totally different approach to their address.
For (Mr Obama), as someone who started as a community organiser, whose campaign was powered by young people, ordinary people, we decided we wanted to go back to Chicago, he told the AFP news agency.
(c) Sky News 2017: President Barack Obama prepares for farewell speech in Chicago