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With subtle jabs at Trump, Michelle Obama outlines 'what makes America great'

In her first major speech since leaving office, ...

Posted: Feb 2, 2018 9:41 PM
Updated: Feb 2, 2018 9:41 PM

In her first major speech since leaving office, former first lady Michelle Obama made an impassioned argument for the importance of educators in communities across the country, saying the example they set is "what makes America great."

Without naming President Donald Trump, Obama subtly acknowledged his effect on children and nodded to the "anxiety" in political discourse caused by his behavior.

"Our counselors and educators have a far bigger impact on our kids' lives than any president or first lady. ... You all serve as living, breathing examples of the kind of people they should aspire to be," she said, speaking at the Counselor of the Year ceremony at the Kennedy Center, part of her Reach Higher initiative on higher education she spearheaded as first lady.

"And trust me, I know this work isn't easy, especially right now. I know there's a lot of anxiety out there. And there's no denying that our kids, what they see on TV, the kind of behavior being modeled in public life -- all of that, yes -- impacts their behavior and their character," Obama said. "But at times like this the work you are all doing is even more urgent. It's even more critically important. See, you all have the power to teach our kids what it means to go high when others go low. You have that power."

The former first lady told the counselors the "real work" of making change happens on the ground in classrooms and communities.

"Folks like these up here, you all, you don't get dragged down by the headlines, by the false claims about our children and our neighborhoods, you don't have time for that nonsense because you're out there doing the work," Obama said. She added: "No matter what's going on right now, out there, all that noise, you know that our young people are the future, and the most important thing we can do as individuals and as a nation is to believe in all of them, to invest in all of them and to build schools and communities worthy of their boundless promise."

Last year, the 2017 School Counselor of the Year event was Obama's final White House speech, tinged with emotional remarks.

"While it was nice to hold this event in the White House last year, this was never about the White House. It was never about me or Barack, and it's never about the handful of people who happen to be in power at any given time," she said Friday, adding, "Folks who model decency and dignity and integrity for our kids every single day, see, that's who we are. That more than anything is what shapes our children and that's what makes America great."

Though she has maintained a low profile over the last year, adjusting to life in Washington beyond the White House, Obama has continued her work with the Reach Higher initiative she spearheaded as first lady, surprising students at Washington, DC, public schools, celebrating college signing day in New York City, and meeting with rising first-year college students.

On Thursday, she made her first televised appearance since leaving office on "The Ellen Show," dishing on her post-White House life and making an appeal for empathy.

"We have to be an open-hearted nation, and that's who we are. And that's the truth of who we are. We can't lose sight of that. So, let's just keep living our lives like that every single day and forget what they're saying in Washington," she said in the interview.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
Adair4418
Monona4352
Worth3630
Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
Decatur3170
Wayne3007
Audubon2962
Ringgold2112
Adams1702
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