Michelle Obama – a First Lady unlike any other – used her final speech in the White House this evening to send out a message of hope. As she gracefully stood at the podium at her Reach Higher 2017 School Counsellor of the Year event, could we have expected anything less from this remarkable tour de force who used her time in office to inspire and encourage; to urge young women to be the very best they could be? But her message wasn’t just for women. Her words of hope will resonate with all who hear them, but she spoke directly to young people, those still trying to shape and make sense of their futures at the dawn of a very new 2017.
“Lead by example with hope, never fear.” Just one sentence which marks the First Lady’s finest hour. She’s been a beacon of light when we needed to hear all was not lost and once again, she sought to unify and empower – through encouraging education – those who might fear what lies ahead.
“I want young people to know that they matter, that they belong.”
“My final message to young people as first lady is simple, don’t be afraid. You hear me. Young people, don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. And get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.”
Her entire speech brimmed with emotion; her voice cracking as she urged us never to forget that there is always hope in a time of darkness. It was emotive, deeply reflective and moving, yet she never faltered in delivering her message at a time when it is needed more than ever. Now is not a time to fear or quit, she said, but to continually hope for a better future in a country that still belongs to its people.
“For all the young people in this room and those watching, know that this country belongs to you. To all of you. From every background and walk of life. If you or your parents are immigrants no that you are part of a proud American tradition; the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation.”
It often seems we’ll never have enough space to aptly depict all of her accomplishments, to describe how lucky we were (and are) as women, to have Michelle Obama – an impassioned, political figure in her own right – speak for us, on behalf of us. For she is one of us. She feels as we do; seeking to try and heal the wounds carelessly caused by Trump, without ever once mentioning his name. Articulate, elegant and graceful, her eight years will go down in history – she’ll go down in history – as the greatest FLOTUS, we’ll likely ever see. And what a remarkable way it was to bow out.
She ended her speech by thanking her supporters and promised that she’d never stop fighting for and with us, come what may over the next few years.
“I’m still going to be here with you. Rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life. Being your first lady has been the greatest honour of my life, and I hope I’ve made you proud.”
Take 20 minutes to watch her full speech below and endlessly repeat and share her message of positivity and hope – and if we’re truly lucky, maybe someday, we’ll get to see her stand at the podium once more…