First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
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Remarks by the First Lady at the Summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
“…. no matter where you all work, no matter what issue you focus on – whether it’s health or microfinance, human rights or clean energy – women’s equality must be a central part of your work. It must. Because make no mistake about it, the work of transforming attitudes about women, it now falls on your shoulders. And it’s up to you all to embrace the future, and then drag your parents and grandparents along with you.
And I know this won’t be easy. I know that you will face all kinds of obstacles and resistance – you already have. But when you get tired or frustrated, when things seem hopeless and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember the words of the man whom your fellowship is now named – and I know these words have been spoken many times.
As Madiba once said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
And I, oh, I know the truth of those words from my own history and from the history of my country.
My ancestors came here in chains. My parents and grandparents knew the sting of segregation and discrimination. Yet I attended some of the best universities in this country. I had career opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. And today, I live in the White House, a building — (applause) — but we must remember, we live in a home that was constructed by slaves.
Today, I watch my daughters – two beautiful African American girls – walking our dogs in the shadow of the Oval Office. And today, I have the privilege of serving and representing the United States of America across the globe.
So my story and the story of my country is the story of the impossible getting done. And I know that can be your story and that can be Africa’s story too. But it will take new energy, it will take new ideas, new leadership from young people like you.
We’ve done this because we believe in Africa, and we believe in all of you. And understand we are filled with so much hope and so many expectations for what you will achieve. You hold the future of your continent in your hands, and I cannot wait to see everything you will continue to accomplish in the years ahead.