In emotional farewell speech, Michelle
Obama praises diversity
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[January 07, 2017]
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - First lady Michelle
Obama made an impassioned case for embracing diversity and welcoming all
religious groups on Friday in a not-so-veiled message to her husband's
successor two weeks ahead of Inauguration Day.
In what was billed as her last formal speech before President Barack
Obama leaves office, the first lady said at an event honoring high
school counselors that the United States belonged to people from all
backgrounds and walks of life.
"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,"
The remarks were reminiscent of her vigorous campaign speeches in favor
of Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. President-elect
Donald Trump has proposed building a wall along the border of Mexico and
temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country.
"If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a
proud American tradition: the infusion of new cultures, talents and
ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest
country on earth," Mrs. Obama said.
"If you are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great
American tradition, too ... And whether you are Muslim, Christian,
Jewish, Hindu, Sikh - these religions are teaching our young people
about justice and compassion and honesty."
Mrs. Obama gave a series of high profile speeches at campaign events for
Clinton last year and made clear her disapproval of Trump for
questioning President Obama's citizenship and for the New York
businessman's treatment of women after a recording was released in which
he bragged about groping women.
[to top of second column]
First lady Michelle Obama speaks during an event welcoming military
families to the White House to view the holiday decorations in
Washington, U.S., November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Trump was a leader of the so-called birther movement that questioned
whether President Obama, who was born in Hawaii, had been born in
the United States.
Mrs. Obama has kept a lower public profile since the election.
Choking up on Friday, she said being first lady had been the
greatest honor of her life.
"So that's my final message to young people as first lady. It is
simple. I want our young people to know that they matter, that they
belong," she said. "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."
(Reporting by Jeff Mason, editing by G Crosse)
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