On Friday, Michelle Obama delivered her final remarks as First Lady of The United States during the Reach Higher School Counselor of the Year event.
Fighting back tears every step of the way and exuding the radiant confidence and graciousness we’ve come to love her for, Mrs. Obama took to the White House podium for the last time to address an intimate crowd of educators, staff and influencers with a moving speech that will surely be remembered for years to come.
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Perhaps the most remarkable takeaway from her words was the realization that she was proud to use one of her final moments as FLOTUS to celebrate the men and women who have dedicate their lives to enriching the futures of children across the country.
As we commemorate the bittersweet moment, here’s a look at 15 quotes from First Lady Michelle Obama’s final speech that will forever be etched in our hearts.
“Hello everyone and may I say, for the last time officially, welcome to the White House.”
“Let’s be honest, if we’re always shining the spotlight on professional athletes, or recording artists, or Hollywood celebrities, if those are the only achievements we celebrate, then why would we ever think kids would see college as a priority? So, we decided to shine a big spotlight on all things educational.”
“As a nation, that’s where the spotlight should also be. On kids who work hard in school and do the right thing when no one is watching.”
“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.”
“If your family doesn’t have much money, I want you to remember that in this country plenty of folks, including me and my husband, started out with very little. But with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible. Even becoming President. That’s what the American dream is all about.”
“If you’re are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great American tradition too. In fact, that’s why people first came to this country, to worship freely. These religions are teaching our young people about justice and compassion and honesty.”
“Our glorious diversities of faiths and colors and creeds, that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are.”
“To the young people here and the young people out there, do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter.”
“You have a right to be exactly who you are. But l also want to be very clear, this right isn’t just handed to you. No, this right has to be earned every single day. You cannot take your freedoms for granted.”
“When you are struggling and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we started this journey nearly a decade ago. Something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives. And that is the power of hope.”
“It is our fundamental believe in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and fear. That is what moves this country forward every single day. Our hope for the future.”
“I want our young people to know that they matter. That they belong. So don’t be afraid. You hear me? Young people don’t be afraid. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”
“Lead by example with hope never fear. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support your for the rest of my life.
“Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.”
Watch First Lady Michelle Obama’s final speech in full, beginning at about the 2:18:15 mark, below.