Michelle Obama fought back tears during her last public remarks as first lady, overcome with emotion as she reflected on her eight years in the White House and delivered an intensely personal message of empowerment through education, one of her cherished causes.
“Being your first lady has been the greatest honour of my life,” Obama told an audience of educators in the East Room, her voice catching as her eyes shone with tears. “And I hope I’ve made you proud.”
The US First Lady was speaking at an East Room ceremony honouring the 2017 school counsellor of the year, and the work of all school counsellors.
The first lady also praised the ‘glorious diversity’ of people of all faiths, colours and creeds in America as ‘not a threat to who we are’ but as what ‘makes us who we are.’
“To the young people out there, do not 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,” Obama said. “And you have a right to be exactly who you are.”
She urged them to get ready to add their voices to the national conversation and ‘stand up for our proud American values’.
The first lady has said she will continue, after she and her husband leave on January 20, to work on issues she championed as first lady.
They include education, fighting childhood obesity and support for military families.
All photographs: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images