Michelle Obama Delivers Powerful Speech on How We're Failing Our Youth, Makes Us Cry


Grab all the Kleenex, and be prepared to shout out things like “yes!” and “MARRY ME MICHELLE OBAMA!” as the FLOTUS gives a blazing, heart-wrenching speech about how the United States needs to go to bat for our most precious resource — our children. Possibly cheesy, definitely true.

The First Lady was in Chicago today to drum up big money donations to fund crucially needed programs for at-risk youth. “It’s not genetics, or pedigree, or good luck — it’s opportunity,” she says to demonstrate that resources available to children are often what makes the difference between success and not. And she’s right. I can’t remember when I’ve been more enamored of a public figure; can she run everything?

The above video isn’t the whole speech — she also spoke about Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old honor student who performed at the inauguration and was shot dead the next month. You can see that video at CNN, and read the tear-inducing partial transcript below.

We all know Hadiya’s story. She was 15 years old, an honor student at King College Prep. And she came from a good family -– two devoted parents, plenty of cousins, solid godparents and grandparents, an adoring little brother. The Pendletons are hardworking people. They’re churchgoing folks. And Hadiya’s mother did everything she could for her daughter. She enrolled her in every activity you could imagine -– cheerleading, majorettes, the praise dance ministry -– anything to keep her off the streets and keep her busy..
And as I visited with the Pendleton family at Hadiya’s funeral, I couldn’t get over how familiar they felt to me. Because what I realized was Hadiya’s family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her. But I got to grow up, and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School, and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine.
And Hadiya? Oh, we know that story. Just a week after she performed at my husband’s inauguration, she went to a park with some friends and got shot in the back because some kid thought she was in a gang. Hadiya’s family did everything right, but she still didn’t have a chance. And that story -– the story of Hadiya’s life and death –- we read that story day after day, month after month, year after year in this city and around this country.

UPDATE: The complete speech is now at top.

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