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tv   The Presidency First Ladies in Their Own Words - Michelle Obama  CSPAN  August 1, 2022 5:26pm-6:10pm EDT

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the opportunity to thank all of you for your support, and friendship over the past eight years. president bush and i have had such a special privilege of being able to represent the people of the united states. we will return to texas with cherished memories of our friends, our staff, and our time at the white house. thank you for joining us at this moment of reflection and celebration. may god bless you all. [applause] thank you for joining us on american history tv for laura bush in her own words. next week, michelle obama, a lawyer, mother of two daughters, and the nation's first african american first lady. first ladies in their own world is also available as a podcast, and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> i am so excited to be introducing our amazing first lady, michelle obama.
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>> that was so great. it's the whole picture. [applause] well! hey there. you guys are pretty fired up, right? i like that. i like that. if people wonder, yes, hillary clinton is my friend. she has been a friend to me, and barack, and malia, and sasha, and bill and chelsea have been embracing and supportive from the very day my husband took the oath of office. now, you may have noticed that i have been doing some campaigning for hillary. i know that there are some folks
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out there who have commented that it's been unprecedented for a sitting first lady to be so actively engaged in a presidential campaign. that may be true, but what's also true is that this is truly an unprecedented election. that's why i am out here. i am out here first and foremost because we have never had a more qualified and prepared candidate for president than our friend hillary clinton. never before in our lifetime. i say this everywhere i go. i admire and respect hillary. she has been a lawyer, a law professor, first lady of arkansas, first lady of the united states, a u.s. senator, secretary of state. she has -- [applause] >> hillary! hillary! hillary!
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>> that was michelle obama, a popular sitting first lady campaigning in 2016 for a former first lady turned presidential candidate. a lawyer, mother of two young daughters, and the first african american first lady. you will hear, in her own voice, here on american history tv, how she experienced her eight years in that white house, featuring footage from c-span's video library. first, you will hear from michelle obama in 2009, a c-span interview, in her first year in the white house. she talks about how she sees the role of first lady, and how she expects to grow in the job. >> i think every first lady brings their unique perspective to this job. if you didn't, you couldn't live through it. i think, to the extent that this feels natural to me at any level, and i would never have thought that living in the white house, and being first lady would feel natural. it's because i try to make it me. i
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try to bring a little bit of michelle obama into this, but at the same time respecting and valuing the tradition that is america's. i think it's all an evolutionary process. you grow into this role, and my sense is that you never get comfortable if you are always pushing for change and growth, not just in yourself, but in the issues that you care about, and you're never done. so, there's never a point in time where you feel like, there, i am now here, and i can do this the same way all the time. it's always changing. the change is giving the state of the issues of the country, and you never know what those are going to be from one day to the next. so, you have to be flexible and fluid and open to evolve. >> this is american history tv. you are listening to michelle obama in her own words. just a month after moving into the white house, she hosted
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children in the east room, an event marking african-american history month. [applause] well, hello! welcome to the white house. how are you guys doing? that's good. it's good to see you all. i've heard you have all been as quiet as mice. have you been behaving in here? is it exciting? come on, it's exciting. isn't this a beautiful house? >> yes! >> well, we are so, so very proud and happy to have you here. see, we were all very much kids like you guys. we just figured out that one day, that our fate was in our own hands. we made decisions to listen to our parents and to our teachers, and to work very, very hard for everything in life. and then, we worked even harder. anytime anybody doubted
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us, as president and first lady, barack and i are just the caretakers of this house. we are just borrowing it for a little bit. but, while we live here, we're your neighbors, okay? we want you to feel welcome here at the white house. which really is, as the admiral said, it's the people's house. it belongs to all of us. so, just remember that, okay? and, as the people's house, we believe the white house should be a place for learning and for sharing new and different ideas, sharing new forms of art and culture, and history, and a different perspectives. we want you to visit, and we want you to take advantage of these opportunities, and maybe see something for yourselves that maybe you never thought you could do or be. so, i am happy to welcome you here for our little black history month celebration. i am glad you guys are here. so many milestones in
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black history have touched this very house. just to name a few, did you know that african americans slaves helped to build this house? you knew that? did you know that right upstairs, in a bedroom called the lincoln bedroom, president lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation that marked an important step forward in ending slavery? did you know that happened right here? you knew that? well, did you know that in 1878, rutherford b. hayes was president at the time. marie selika became the first soprano, the first african american artist to perform here in the white house. that was in 1878. did you know that? because, i didn't know that. and in the 1960s, did you know that dr. martin luther king and other civil rights leaders met here with president kennedy and
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johnson to debate and discuss the end of segregation? did you know that? pretty cool, right? yeah. well, you are yawning. wake up! i'm just kidding. and of, course who lives here now? president obama. he is making history every single day. why? why? [inaudible] >> he is the first african american president of the united states. >> that is correct. would you like to stand? would you like to say that one more time? >> he's the first african american president of the united states. >> very good. [applause] >> this is american history tv, and you are listening to michelle obama in her own words. african american history and the challenges and accomplishments of black americans were themes the first lady returned to often. in 2013, she hosted the cast and crew of the movie 42, about jackie robinson who broke the color
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barrier in major league baseball. >> we watched this movie over the weekend. it was just asked because our girls were away. they are definitely going to watch this movie. we think that everybody in this country needs to watch this movie. and i can say, with all sincerity, that it was truly powerful for us. i don't know about you, but we walked away from that just visibly, physically moved by the experience of the movie, of the story. it wasn't simply that wonderful performances. because, the performances were brilliant, brilliant. i mean, you know, i'm no movie critic, but you all are pretty good. you are pretty good. it wasn't that wonderful screenwriting, or the directing. it was the raw emotion that it just makes you feel after the experience. i mean, watching anybody go through what jackie and rachel robinson did, you know, the outright discrimination they encountered at every turn,
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every turn, from the fans in the stadium, to the airport receptionist, even from some of his own teammates. you left just asking yourselves, how on earth did they live through that? you know? how did they do it? how did they endure the taunts and the bigotry. for all of that time, and while so many in this country still face clear challenges, they still exist today. i was struck by how far removed that way of life seems today. i mean, there is work to be done, but things have changed. major league baseball is fully integrated. you can't imagine the baseball league not being integrated. there are no more whites only signs posted anywhere in this country. although, it still happens, it is far less acceptable for someone to yell out a racial slur when you are walking down the street. it still happens, but not
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tolerated. that kind of prejudice is simply, just not something that can happen in the light of day today. and then on the other hand, for us to be able to sit in the same room, as rachel robinson -- do you all understand, we are here with rachel robinson. [applause] the woman who lived through that life, whose memories and perspectives will forever be shaped by those experiences. her presence here today makes us realize just how connected we are to that part of our history. it is very real, and very tangible. in the end, i can't help but marvel at just how far we've come over the course of this woman's life. but, it also reminds us how far we have to go. how much more work we have to do. jackie and rachel robinson's story reminds
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us how much hard work it takes to move a country forward. it reminds us how much struggle is required to make real progress and change. so as you reflect on this story, not just today but i hope you keep thinking about it for the rest of your life, i want you to think about how much strength it took day in and day out for rachel and jackie robinson and for thousands of other people just like them all across this country to keep pressing ahead, even though some folks wouldn't even treat them like they were human beings. they just kept pressing ahead. it would have been easy for them to get mad, right? because i know i was mad. just watching at the movie. it would have been easy for them to get mad or to give up. but instead, they made, they met hatred with decency. i want you all to keep that in mind -- they met hatred with decency and more importantly,
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they gave their absolute very best every single day. they gave their best every single day, from the time they were young people, just like all of you, they worked hard to prepare themselves for greatness so that when the opportunity came their way, they were ready for that greatness. you know, this would have been a totally different story had they not been prepared, had they not trained themselves, had they not educated themselves. yeah, jackie robinson certainly was a tremendous athlete, but he was so much more than that. you know, he bravely served in our armed forces. he attended college at ucla. he competed as hard as he could at everything he did so that his gifts wouldn't go to waste. and rachel robinson was in every way his equal, ladies, in every way his equal. she made her education a priority, she worked hard in school, she
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eventually became a nurse. so, jackie and rachel robinson weren't destined for greatness, they prepared themselves for greatness, which meant that they could make a difference outside of baseball as well and that is the only thing that is important for you to understand. you can be great in your profession, you can earn a lot of money, you can be famous, but the question is, what are you doing for others? after he retired, jackie robinson became a leader in the civil rights movement, working with dr. king, the naacp. he helped to start a bank to help other minorities start their own small businesses and own their own homes. and after his death, mrs. robinson carried on that legacy by starting the jackie robinson foundation, which has provided college scholarships and training and career opportunities for more than 1400 underserved students. in fact, i know that we have a few jackie robinson scholars here
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today who are studying at howard and georgetown and yale and brown and even my alma mater, princeton. >> first ladies in their own words continues now on american history tv. michelle obama traveled to alabama in 2015 to address the graduating class of tuskegee university, a historically black college. she reflected on how she had grown in her role as first lady. she also acknowledged criticism directed at herself and president obama and spoke about dealing with racism. >> and while the history of this campus isn't perfect, the defining story of tuskegee is the story of rising hopes and fortunes for all african americans. and now graduates, it's your turn to take up that cause. and let me tell you, you should feel so proud of making it to this day. and i hope that you are excited to get started
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on that next chapter. but i also imagine that you might think about all of that history, all those heroes who came before you, and you might also feel a little pressure, you know? pressure to live up to the legacy of those who came before you, pressure to meet the expectations of others. and believe me, i understand that kind of pressure. [laughter] [laughs] i've experienced a little bit of it myself. [applause] you see, graduates, i didn't start out as the fully formed first lady who stands before you today. no, no, i had my share of bumps along the way. back when my husband first started campaigning for president folks had also it's of questions of me. what kind of first lady would i be? what kinds of issues would i take on? would that be more like laura bush or hillary clinton or nancy reagan? and the truth is
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those same questions would have been posed to any candidate's spouse. that's just the way the process works. but as potentially speculations, conversations, sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. was i too loud or too angry? or two emasculating? [applause] or, was i too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman? and then there was the first time i was on a magazine cover. it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun. [laughter] now, yeah, it was
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satire. but if i'm really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. it made me wonder, well, just how are people seeing me? or you might remember the on stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary when that was referred to as a terrorist fist jab. [laughter] and over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. once said that i exhibited a little bit of a uppitty-ism. [laughter] another noted that i was one of my husband's cronies of color. cable news charmingly referred to be as obama's baby mama. [laughter] and of course, barack has endured his fair share of insults and slights, even today, there are still folks questioning his citizenship. and all of this
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used to really get to me. back in those days, i had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if i might be hurting my husband's chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they find out what some people were saying about their mom. but eventually, i realized that if i wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing i could do, and that was to have faith in god's plan for me. [applause] i had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself, and the rest would work itself out. so throughout this journey, i have learned to block everything out and focus on my truth. i had to answer some basic questions for
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myself. who am i? no, really, who am i? what do i care about? and the answers to those questions have resulted in the woman who stands before you today. [applause] a woman who is first and foremost a mom. look, i love our daughters more than anything in the world, more than life itself. and while that may not be the first thing that some folks want to hear from an ivy league educated lawyer, it is truly who i am. >> yes! >> [applause] so for me, being mom-in-chief is and always will be job number one. next, i've always felt a deep sense of obligation to make the biggest impact possible with this incredible platform. so i took on issues that were personal to me, issues like helping families raise healthier kids, honoring the incredible military family that i met out on the campaign trail, inspiring our young people to value their education and finish college. [applause] now, some folks criticize my choices for not being bold enough, but
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these were my choices, my issues. and i decided to tackle them in a way that felt most authentic to me, in a way that was both substantive and strategic, but also fun and hopefully inspiring. so i immersed myself in the policy details. i worked with congress on legislation, gave speeches to ceos, military generals, hollywood executives. but i also worked to ensure that my efforts would resonate with kids and families. and that meant doing things in a creative and unconventional way. so yeah, i planted a garden and hula hooped on the white house lawn with kids. i did some mom dancing on tv. i celebrated military kids with kermit the frog. i asked folks across the country to wear their alma mater's t-shirts for college signing day. and at the end of the day, by staying true to the me i've always known, i
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found that this journey has been incredibly freeing. because no matter what happened, i had the peace of mind of knowing that all of the chatter, the name-calling, the doubting, all of it was just noise. it did not define me. [applause] it didn't change who i was. and most importantly, it couldn't hold me back. >> this is american history tv, and you're listening to michelle obama in her own words. as first lady she took up the cause of supporting men and women in the military and their families. she made a plea on behalf of veterans in particular before a 2010 meeting of the clinton global initiative in new york. >> she reminds me, with her work, to be a voice for america's military families and veterans, using her platform as first lady to make sure they get support and respect and the appreciation that they deserve.
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so it is with that that i would like to introduce you to my first lady, americas first lady, michelle obama. [applause] as you endeavor to do more, to serve more communities, lift up more families, save more lives, how can you find new ways to tap the skills and talents of more people? how can you create and train new leaders, not just
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here in america but around the world? how can you, as president clinton put it earlier this week, get people involved in our common endeavors? so in pondering these questions, i'm here today to ask you to consider an issue that is near and dear to my heart as first lady, and one that i believe is vitally important for just about everything you're working to accomplish, and that is the challenges faced by americas a veterans and military families and all they have to offer, particularly as they transition to civilian life. now, at first glance, i know this issue may seem too uniquely american in scope for such a global audience here at cgi. but right now, the human potential of america's veterans and military families is both vast and woefully underutilized. and that's not just an issue for those individuals or for this country. it also significantly impacts what you and so many
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others are trying to achieve, not just here in america, but around the world. now, as first lady, i've had the privilege of meeting america's men and women in uniform. i've met them on bases and hospitals and communities all across this country. and i always come away from these visits not just with a sense of pride and gratitude, but with a sense of awe. believe me, i'm awed. i'm awed by their courage and their sacrifice. i'm awed by their commitment to this country and the standard of excellence they uphold. and while most folks share my respect and admiration for their service, a lot of folks have no idea what that service actually entails. many still don't know the full power of their human potential. but just consider for a moment the
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kind of work that they do. members of our military master state-of-the-art technology, some of the most advanced information and medical and communications systems in the world. they run the world's most complex operations, distributing supplies to thousands of locations, moving tons of equipment halfway across the globe. they oversee hundreds of their colleagues recruiting the top talent and inspiring folks from diverse backgrounds to succeed as a team. >> many of them are barely old enough to vote. yet, they show their moral responsibility than many ceos, undertaking missions where there is no margin for error, where the bottom line is often a matter of life or death. now, these are highly
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valuable, highly transferable, highly marketable skills, skills that i know many businesses, including those represented here today, are desperate to find. yet, the fact is that right now, more than 150,000 recent veterans are still struggling to find jobs. so, the fact is that americans veterans and military spouses have years of experience and training doing precisely the kind of work that all of you are doing every day across the globe. are you building roads, or schools, or shelters? they've done that. are you establishing health clinics in remote parts of the world? they've done that, too. are you trying to recruit and manage teams of volunteers? are you working to get clean water into a village? are you trying to move people to safety in the wake of a natural disaster? you see, that's all in a day's work for these folks. >> first ladies in their own words continues now on american history tv. michelle obama focused a spotlight on childhood obesity and the health of the nation's children. she used the white house as a platform to advance
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the issue. you will hear from her next at the 2010 white house easter egg roll, where the south lawn was converted into a sprawling playground. [applause] >> hey, everybody! is this not the most perfect day for the easter egg roll? let's say thank you to mother nature. yeah! you guys, we are so excited to have you. welcome to the 2010 easter egg roll. the theme for this year's event is ready, set, what? >> go! >> go! >> and as you guys know, this year, i launched a nationwide initiative to try to end the epidemic of childhood obesity. it's called let's move. today, we have transformed the south lawn into a playground. our
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hope today, is that in addition to having fun and doing some of the traditional activities like the egg roll and the easter egg hunt, that you can learn about beginning to live a more healthy life. we've got wonderful food stands over in the back. we've got some of the areas, and the nation's best chefs. you can learn to cook. there is a farmers market. you can see the garden. we also have some great activities. we've got several athletic centers. we've got football. we've got basketball. yeah. we've got tennis. we've got yoga. we have some of the most phenomenal athletes here. we have our washington redskins here. [applause] we have olympians, apollo, billie jean king. in the center, we are going to have some dancing, some hooping. we have dj toni from the ellen degeneres show, who is going to do some stuff. and then, if that's not enough, you can go over to that music stage, and just have some fun with justin bieber. [applause]
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you guys know justin bieber? you've heard of justin bieber? [applause] well, he is here! we have one of my favorites from the cast of glee. yay! thank you, amber, for that wonderful rendition of the national anthem. and then, we've got readers. reading is important! we've got j.k. rowling, one of our favorite authors here. reese witherspoon, we've got tons of people who are here just to have fun with you guys today. so, the only thing you need to do is get ready, set, and do it? >> roll! >> the first lady also oversaw the white house garden planting to promote healthy eating is part of our let's move campaign. she worked
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hand-in-hand with local schoolchildren to plant and harvest the garden. >> this garden cannot only feed my family, but it is going to feed all the staff at the white house. we are going to use these vegetables to help feed you guys. we are going to serve it at some state dinners. so, with this little plot of land, and this is a big plot. you don't even have to plant this much. we can produce enough fruits and vegetables to feed us for years and years to come, for just a couple hundred dollars. isn't that amazing? so, we are looking to you guys to help us make it happen, so we are going to plant the seedlings today. then, in a few months, hopefully right around the time you get out of school, you can come and help us harvest the fruits and vegetables, and come into the white house with all of our chefs and start doing a little cooking. how does that sound? >> pretty good. you've got it? [inaudible] >> it smells like spices.
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>> as we close our look at michelle obama, first, we first revisit the 2016 campaign that dominated the last months of her eight years in the white house. you will hear her speech before the democratic national convention in philadelphia, which nominated hillary clinton for president. michelle obama's signature line from that campaign, when they go low, we go high. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> you know, it's hard to believe that it has been eight years since i first came to this convention to talk with you about why i thought my husband should be president.
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[applause] >> remember how i told you about his character and conviction, his decency, and his grace, the traits that we've seen every day that he has served our country in the white house? [applause] i also told you about our daughters, how they are at the heart of our hearts, the center of our world, and during our time in the white house, we've had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised, young woman, a journey that started soon after we arrived in washington, when they set off for their first day at their new school. i will never forget that winter morning as i watched our girls, just seven and ten years old, pile into those black suvs, with all of those big men with guns. i saw their little faces
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pressed up against the window. the only thing i could think was, what have we done? see, because at that moment, i realized that our time at the white house would form the foundation for who they would become, and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them. that is what barack and i think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight, how we urge them to ignore those who question their father's citizenship or faith, how we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on tv does not represent the true spirit of this country, how we explain that when someone is cruel, or
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acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level. no, our motto is, when they go low, we go high. [applause] with every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. we, as parents, are their most important role models. let me tell you, barack and i take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but the children across this country. kids -- kids who tell us, i saw you on tv. i wrote a report on you for school. kids like that little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, is my hair like yours? make no mistake about it. this november, when we go to the polls, that
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is what we are deciding. not democrat or republican, not left or right. no, in this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. [applause] >> in her last official remarks as first lady, michelle obama spoke in the white house east room in early january, 2017. the event was to honor school counselors, and mrs. obama talked about the administration's efforts to improve education. as she concluded her speech, the first lady gave one last pep talk, and expressed a personal hope. >> and as i end my time in the white house, i can think of no better message to send to our young people, in my last official remarks as first lady. so, for all the young people in this room, and those who are
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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, know that you are part of a proud american tradition -- the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest country on earth. 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, we started out with very little. but with a lot of hard work, and a good education, anything is possible, even becoming president. that's one of the american dream is all about. [applause] and, if you are a person of
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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. and whether you are muslim, christian, jewish, hindu, sikh, these religions are teaching our young people about justice, and compassion, and honesty. i want our young people to continue to learn and practice those values with pride. you see, our glorious diversity, our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds, that is not a threat to who we are. it makes us who we are. [applause]
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to the young people here, and the young people out there, cannot ever let anyone make you feel like you don't matter or like you don't have a place in our american story because you do. you have a right to be exactly who you are. but, i 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. just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms. that starts right now, when you are young. right now, you need to be preparing yourself to add your voice to our national conversation. you need to prepare yourself to be informed and engaged as a citizen, to serve and to lead,
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to stand up for our proud american values and to honor them in your daily lives. and, that means getting the best education possible so you can think critically, so you can express yourself clearly, so you can get a good job, and support yourself, and your family, so you can be a positive force in your communities. and when you encounter obstacles, because i guarantee you, you will, and many of you already have, 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, that is the power of hope, the belief that something
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better is always possible if you are willing to work for it and fight for it. it is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country. our hope, that if we work hard enough, and believe in ourselves, then we can be whatever we dream, regardless of the limitations that others may place on us. being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and i hope i've made you proud. [applause] >> thank you for joining us on american history tv for first ladies in their own words, our program on michelle obama. next week, melania trump, a former model from slovenia, mrs. trump


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