REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY DURING KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT YOUNG AFRICAN WOMEN LEADERS FORUM|Regina Mundi Church Soweto, South Africa

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    little by little, measured not by sweeping changes in the law, but by daily improvements in people’s lives.

    But I can tell you from my own experience –- and from my husband’s experience -– that this work is no less meaningful, no less inspiring, and no less urgent than what you read about in the history books.

    You see, it wasn’t that long ago that my husband and I were young, believe it or not — (laugher) — just starting out our careers.  After he graduated from university, Barack got a job as a community organizer in the struggling neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago.  A lot of people there were out of work and barely getting by.  Children had few opportunities and little hope for their future.  And trust me, no one thought that this skinny kid with the funny name — (laughter) — could make much of a difference.

    But Barack started talking to people.  He urged them to start working on the change they wanted to see.  Soon, slowly, folks started coming together to fight for job training programs and better schools and safer housing for their families.

    Slowly, the neighborhoods started to turn around.  Little by little, people started feeling hopeful again.  And that made Barack feel hopeful.

    And I had a similar experience in my own career.  Like my husband, I came from a modest background.  My parents saved and sacrificed everything they had so that I could get an education.  And when I graduated, got a job at a big, fancy law firm — nice salary, big office.  My friends were impressed.  My family was proud.  By all accounts, I was living the dream.

    But I knew something was missing.  I knew I didn’t want to be way up in some tall building all alone in an office writing memos. 

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