Smart, sophisticated, and stylish — our beloved FLOTUS has never ceased to amaze me, and her latest message once again proves why she will go down as one of the greatest first ladies in U.S. history. At an annual celebration of young black girls, Michelle Obama declared "Black Girls Rock," referencing the name of the nonprofit holding Saturday night's event. Honorees of the night included Jada Pinkett Smith, Erykah Badu, Cicely Tyson, Selma director Ava DuVernay, educator Nadia Lopez, and humanitarian and CARE USA CEO Helene D. Gayle.
Though Obama was simply a participant in the night's festivities, she received the loudest applause when she took the stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. She told the crowd:
No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful.
Obama urged attendees to pursue their educational goals, echoing the message from her recent trip to Japan, where she joined forces with Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to encourage girls from developing countries to be educated. On Saturday, Obama said:
There is nothing more important than being serious about your education. That’s why I am able to stand here tonight. … I want every one of our black girls do to the same, and our black boys.
Launched in 2006, Black Girls Rock! is a nonprofit that aims to build young black girls' self-esteem and empower them through mentoring and enrichment programs. The organization, founded by musician Beverly Bond, says on its website that it has taken "the crisis of our female youth of color here in America head on" to help them build positive images of themselves. Obama said even with supportive parents, she often faced uncertainty but chose to overcome her self-doubt.
I know there are voices that you are not good enough. Each of those doubts was like a test that I either shrink away from or rise to meet. And I decided to rise.
Obama has been a major player in promoting education for disadvantaged groups as well as fighting childhood obesity. In 2010, she introduced the initiative Let's Move! to encourage children to take on a healthy lifestyle with the support of their families, schools, and communities. FLOTUS celebrated the program's fifth anniversary earlier this month by challenging Ellen DeGeneres to a dance-off. She asked Americans to give five minutes every day and get active by dancing the easy-to-learn choreography set to Bruno Mar's "Uptown Funk."
Obama has never shied away from stepping into the national spotlight for an amazing cause. Her recent declaration that "black girls rock" is just the latest evidence of how inspiring our first lady is. Really, who else can truly motivate young women everywhere while rocking that stunning white dress?
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