Michelle Obama delivered a powerful speech in her last public address as the first lady of the United States Friday, focusing on young people and their role in the future of the country, CNN reported.
Calling her role as FLOTUS “the greatest honor of my life,” Mrs. Obama held back tears a few times as she thanked her supporters and addressed young people in particular during a White House event honoring school counselors.
“I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong,” the first lady said during the speech, which occurred exactly two weeks before Donald Trump will take office as president.
“So 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. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of you boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.”
The first lady’s speech brought many in the audience to tears. She thanked those in attendance for caring for America’s kids and working so hard to support them, saying she knew they joined her in pledging to work on behalf of young people throughout the country.
“Know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life,” she said to young people watching, adding that she knew it was true for every person there along with “educators and advocates all across this nation, who get up every day and work their hearts out to get out there and lift up young people.”
Michelle’s speech, which Harper’s Bazaar called “memorable and moving,” focused particularly on the importance of diversity in America.
“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 you and your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition, the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation and after generation. That has made us the greatest country on earth.”
The first lady also emphasized the importance of working hard and keeping hope throughout the speech.
“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 first 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,” she said. “The belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.”
Mrs. Obama encouraged young people to get a good education and work hard, saying that with those things, everything is possible, “even becoming president.”
The first lady also praised American diversity, saying that it is not a threat to who we are but what “makes us who we are.” She invoked her husband’s campaign message, telling young people to “lead by example, with hope, never fear.”
She ended the moving speech by saying, “I hope I made you proud.”
The speech seemed to have made many people proud and moved many around the country to tears.
Michelle Obama's final speech as FLOTUS was so beautiful. I cried my eyes out. What a graceful and inspiring woman!— ️ ️ ️ ️ ️ (@goddessyonce) January 6, 2017
"I hope I've made you proud." Last line of @MichelleObama's last speech as FLOTUS. Beyond proud.— Christian Potterton (@cjpotterton) January 6, 2017
Today’s ceremony, which Michelle Obama initiated in 2015, highlighted high school counselors who have demonstrated leadership skills. The event is part of her “Reach Higher” program that promotes higher education. The first lady has spent her time as FLOTUS promoting education, fitness, and military families, among other causes she is passionate about.
You can watch the first lady’s moving speech below.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]