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  1. ITV Report

Michelle Obama: Lead with hope not fear

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Michelle Obama used her final speech as First Lady of the United States to celebrate diversity and urge young people from all backgrounds to stand up for their freedoms and embrace education.

In an emotional speech, the First Lady gave a message of hope to her divided country and said being America's First Lady had been the "greatest honour of my life."

Speaking to a room of educators, Mrs Obama said: "I want young people to know that they matter, that they belong.

"So don't be afraid. You hear me. Young people, don't be afraid.

"Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. And get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.

"Lead by example with hope, never fear."

In her final official address in the White House before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on 20 January, Mrs Obama spoke about her father who "got up everyday to do his job at the city water plant" in order to put his kids through college and be given opportunities "he never dreamed of".

Speaking at a Reach Higher 2017 School Counsellor of the Year, an annual event spearheaded by Mrs Obama to raise awareness of the work school counsellors do with young people, the First Lady's speech urged unity and tolerance.

She did not mention Donald Trump by name, but spoke to those who may fear his Presidency because of their origin or religion.

She said: “For all the young people in this room and those watching, know that this country belongs to you. To all of you.

"If you or your parents are immigrants no that you are part of a proud American tradition; the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation."

Michelle and Barack Obama at White House, October 2016. Credit: PA

She continued: "If you are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great American tradition too.

"Our glorious diversity; our diversity of faiths and colours and creeds, that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are."

Mrs Obama said Americans should not take their freedoms for granted.

"This right isn't just handed to you, this right has to be earned every single day. You cannot take your freedoms for granted."

"You have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms."