Michelle Obama issues emotive parting message

2017-01-07 10:49
US first lady Michelle Obama smiles as she speaks at the 2017 School Counsellor of the Year ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, her final public speech as first lady. (Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)

US first lady Michelle Obama smiles as she speaks at the 2017 School Counsellor of the Year ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, her final public speech as first lady. (Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Michelle Obama urged young Americans not to fear the future but fight for it, delivering an emotive farewell speech on Friday in which she said being first lady was the greatest honour of her life.

After eight years in the White House, the 52-year-old will be leaving with her husband Barack Obama on January 20, when Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

"For all the young people in this room and those who are watching, know that this country belongs to you, to all of you, from every background and walk of life," she said in the East Room of the White House.

"Being the first lady has been the greatest honour of my life," she said at an event for School Counsellor of the Year. "I hope I have made you proud."

Role model

As first lady, Obama focused her public role on encouraging healthy lifestyles, education for girls and in supporting military families.

But it was as a role model for minorities that the first African-American first lady wielded the most influence - most spectacularly by denouncing Donald Trump's attacks on immigrants and Muslims during the White House race.

"If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition," she told the audience.

"With a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible, including becoming president. That's what the American dream is all about," she said.

"Know that religious diversity is a great American tradition too," Obama said. "Our glorious diversity is what makes us who we are."

'Don't be afraid' 

During last year's campaign Obama was a vociferous critic of Trump.

She made no direct reference to the president-elect Friday but the mogul's victory framed her remarks.

"You cannot take your freedom for granted," Obama said. "You have to do your part to protect and preserve those freedoms."

"So don't be afraid - you hear me young people? Don't be afraid, be focused, be determined, be empowered... lead by example, with hope, never fear."

In a speech delivered in New Hampshire in October, a few weeks before the election, the first lady had denounced, her voice trembling with emotion, what she called Trump's "frightening" attitude towards women.

"It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted," Obama said, in a takedown of the now president-elect that sent shockwaves around the country and beyond.

"This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable," she charged.

No electoral ambitions

In addition to her work combating obesity and assisting veterans' families, over the last two years Obama has spoken more pointedly on questions of race and inequality in American society.

A recent Pew Research poll found that 72 percent of Americans hold a favourable opinion of the first lady.

But despite her political superstar status and a reputation for style, wit and tact, Obama has repeatedly said she has no electoral ambitions herself.

"Michelle will never run for office," Barack Obama reiterated in an interview several weeks ago. "She is as talented a person as I know. You can see the incredible resonance she has with the American people.

"But I joke that she's too sensible to want to be in politics."

Read more on:    michelle obama  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.