Obamas commitment to childrens health and education remained steadfast in the past eight years as she transformed into an impassioned political figure
With tears in her eyes and her voice cracking with emotion, the self-declared mom-in-chief stepped off the public stage on Friday with her final speech as first lady, urging young Americans to believe in the power of hope.
Michelle Obama, who began her White House years pursuing the typically soft subjects that have often limited the wives of presidents, ended with a clarion call for diversity and vowing to make it her lifes work to help disadvantaged children get to college, a personal mission that has its roots in her own Chicago childhood.
In a deeply emotional reflection on what lies ahead for the US in the era of President Donald Trump, she sent a clear message to young people to rise above division, anger and bigotry, no matter what they look like, their background or religion.
My final message to young people as first lady is simple. I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong … Dont be afraid, be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education … then build a country worthy of your boundless promise.
The sign-off in the East Room of the White House ended with her being engulfed in hugs from school counsellors from across the US whom she celebrated for the crucial support they give to students in their darkest moments.
It was also a moment to mark the eight-year journey she has made to become an impassioned political figure in her own right. She has never stood for office, but there were times in the final weeks of the US election campaign when it seemed possible that she could run for president and win.
She had taken the fight to Donald Trump, telling a Hillary Clinton rally in New Hampshire that his boasts about sexually assaulting women had shaken her to her core. This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable, she said in a speech which revealed a toughness and an ability to connect with an audience to rival her own husbands gifts.
Speaking in Philadelphia from the same platform as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, she emerged as the true star of the Democratic convention, moving the audience to tears as she spoke about the possibility of the first female president, and her own familys journey from slavery to the White House.
Drawing powerfully on her own family history her great-great-grandfather lived as a slave she spoke of the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.
And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.
Ever since Martha Washington complained that she felt like a state prisoner, the role of the first lady has traditionally been seen as a confining one, where elegance comes first and controversy is best avoided.
And Michelle Obamas White House years began typically as a self-styled mom-in-chief, with two daughters aged 10 and seven, advocating a healthy-living agenda.
She turned a far corner of the White House grounds into a vegetable garden and brought children from some of Washingtons poorest schools to help her plant broccoli. She also delightful with her irreverent willingness to drop convention joining in with an Evolution of Mom Dancing routine on the talkshow Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, to promote her Lets Move fitness push and later, getting in the passenger seat for Carpool Karaoke with James Corden to promote her Let Girls Learn global education campaign.
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