Michelle Obama delivered her final remarks as First Lady at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year event in the East Room of the White House.
The First Lady was filled with teary eyes and shaky voice as she addressed the world for the Last time using the opportunity to honor the 2017 School Counselor of the Year. School Counselor of the Year is an annual White House tradition started in 2015 by Mrs. Obama, an award extended through her Reach Higher initiative to encourage post-secondary education.This farewell bid by Mrs. Obama marks exactly two weeks before President-elect Donald Trump assumes office.
“Hello, everyone. And, may I say for the last time officially, welcome to the White House. Yes!” she said. “The Last Time”- a bittersweet finale to Obama’s eight years in the White House, where she stood championing initiatives that focused on education, healthy living and girls empowerment- all of which stamps her historic legacy of her role as First Lady.
In her final speech, she told the East Room audience that it has been her greatest honor to serve as First Lady, “and I hope I have made you proud” she said. The 21-minute speech spoke greatly to young people, to the issues of diversity and multiculturalism as a nation and towards an appeal for hope- “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.” she said, a remark that received a huge applause from the audience. The intensity of the speech was quite amplified and the underlying tone of rebuke against fear and anger was prominent in the words of the first Lady. “ 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.” she remarked.
She rang words to young people saying they need to be preparing themselves right now, add their voice to the national conversation and be informed and engaged as a citizen.
The event was also star studded the First Lady acknowledged saying, “I also want to acknowledge a few other special guests we have in the audience. We’ve got a pretty awesome crew. As one of my staff said, “You roll pretty deep.” Stars in attendance included Ted Allen, La La Anthony, Connie Britton, Andy Cohen, Carla Hall, Coach Jim Harbaugh and his wife, Lana Parrilla, Jay Pharoah whom the First Lady referred to as her buddy, Kelly Rowland, Usher, Allison William and her mother. The reaction of the audience was “Woo!”, With Mrs. Obama urging everyone to “Keep it down.”, “Keep it together, ladies. Wale is here” she said.
She noted that these celebrities are using their star power to inspire young people. Expressing her gratitude to them for stepping up and speaking on behalf of this issue of education, the Reach Higher initiative.
We wanted to make higher education cool,” Obama said. “We wanted to change the conversation around what it means and what it takes to be a success in this country.”
The first lady leaves the White House as a widely popular public figure with Gallup placing her favorability ratings at 64 percent, in testament to her legacy as a beloved figure.
As she was concluding the speech, her voice began to thicken, the first Lady who has spent nearly a decade in the white house highlighted that hope is what has carried her and the President through every moment in the White House for those years—“ and that is the power of hope — the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.”
First Lady Michelle Obama rounds up her final words, in encouragement to young people, to know that they matter, they belong and so should not be afraid –- “you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.” she said…
The audience rose to applaud when she completed her remarks, awardees and some in audience wiping their own tears to this finale.