Coming off a rousing speech this month at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, and making several campaign fundraising speeches in support of her husband, President Barack Obama, the first lady's speech last night was booth encouraging and inspiring, touching on several issues that included her saying that this election "is the march of our lifetime."
The First Lady wearing a floor-length, off the shoulder black Micahel Kors gown with a shimmering, diamond-like sequenced belt, addressed the crowd telling them, "But today, how many of us have asked someone whether they’re going to vote, and they say, no, I’m too busy, and besides, I voted last time; or, nah, it’s not like my vote is going to make a difference? See, after so many folks sacrificed so much so that we could make our voices heard, too many of us still choose not to participate. So when it comes to casting our ballots, it cannot just be "we the people" who had time to spare on Election Day. Can't just be "we the people" who really care about politics, or "we the people" who happened to drive by a polling place on the way home from work. It must be all of us. That is our birthright as citizens of this great nation. That fundamental promise that we all get a say in our democracy, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like , or who we love. So we cannot let anyone discourage us from casting our ballots. We cannot let anyone make us feel unwelcome in the voting booth. It is up to us to make sure that in every election, every voice is heard and every vote is counted."
The first lady also praised the Congressional Black Caucus for their tireless work in ensuring the rights of African Americans and all people.
"But from so many unlikely places, members of this caucus rose up and lived out their own version of the great American Dream. And that is why they came here to Washington. They came because they were determined to give others that same chance; they were determined to open that doorway of opportunity even wider for those who came after them. They came because they believe that there is no higher calling than serving our country, no more noble a cause than that of our fellow citizens."
"You all are part of a proud tradition, one that dates back not just to the founding of this caucus, but to the beginning of so many improbable journeys to the halls of Congress."
Obama also recognized the passing of Congressman Donald M. Payne who passed earlier this year, succumbing to colon cancer. Payne served nearly two decades in Congress.
Of course it would not be a complete First Lady Obama speech without her mentioning child hood obesity, the life's work of her Let's Move campaign.
"And make no mistake about it, change absolutely starts at home. We know that. It starts with each of us taking responsibility for ourselves and our families. Because we know that our kids won’t grow up healthy until our families start eating right and exercising more. That’s on us. We know we won’t close that education gap until we turn off the TV, and supervise that homework, and serve as good role models for our own kids. That’s on us. We know that."
President Obama spoke at both the 2010 and 2011 CBC Phoenix Award Awards dinner.
The Phoenix Award symbolizes the immortality of the human spirit and an eternal desire to reach its full potential. Recipients of this year's prestigious award included:
- U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. will receive The CBCF Chair's Award. The award is presented to an individual whose work and accomplishments stand as a role model for the African-American community and the African Diaspora.
- Writer, director George Lucas will receive The CBC Chair's Award. The award is presented to an individual who exhibits the highest standards of dedication, ability and creativity;
- Representative Corrine Brown of Florida and the first African American Mayor of Charlotte, NC, the Honorable Harvey Gantt will each receive The Harold Washington Award. The award is presented to an individual who has contributed immeasurably to African-American political awareness, empowerment and the advancement of minorities in the electoral process;
Recent past recipients of the award include EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson; Athlete, Entrepreneur & Humanitarian George Edward Foreman, Sr.; Civil Rights Activist Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery; and U.S. Rep. and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis.