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Michelle Obama praises ‘the power of hope’ in her farewell speech

First lady Michelle Obama smiles as she speaks at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
First lady Michelle Obama smiles as she speaks at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
By Christi Parsons Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON – Michelle Obama delivered her final address as first lady Friday, exhorting young people not to lose hope amid voices of “anger and fear.”

She said she and President Barack Obama have risen above obstacles through “the power of hope . the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.”

Surrounded by school counselors and in front of an audience of educators in the White House, the first lady singled out immigrants and Muslims by name and praised the “diversity that is a great American tradition.”

“Our glorious diversity . is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are,” she said. “Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you do not matter, or that you do not have a place in our American story.”

The line echoed her October address condemning President-elect Donald Trump for what she described as a lack of decency toward other people.

As on that day and in other campaign appearances, Obama once again did not mention Trump by name. Nor did she mention the groundswell of voters who responded to his messages against immigrants, Muslims and others.

And she did not revisit her words of an interview with Oprah Winfrey before Christmas, when she said that since the election “we are feeling what not having hope feels like.”

Rather, she offered short, simple remarks that closed with an exhortation to young people.

“They belong,” she said. “Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Lead by example with hope, never fear.

”Know that I will be with you,“ she said, choking up, closing with, ”I hope I’ve made you proud.“

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