Six Uplifting, Enriching Minutes for Youngsters

The following column originally appeared in several APG of East Central Minnesota newspapers during September, 2022.

Six uplifting, enriching minutes for youngsters


Doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican, DFL’er or independent. On Sept. 7, for about six minutes, there was a speech given that I hope every family and every educator shares soon with young people.

It was a speech about the best ideals and ideas of America. The speech, courtesy of CNN, is found here.

The speech was given at the White House by former first lady Michelle Obama.


Photo courtesy of CNN

Please keep reading, regardless of your politics.

She was discussing the meaning of two portraits, depicting she and President Obama. They’ll hang in the White House, along with those of other presidents and first ladies.

Although the speech has no formal title, Michelle Obama explained “what it means for us to end up on the walls of the most famous address in the world.” She noted that “A girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jackie Kennedy and Dolly Madison.”

However, she emphasized, “This day isn’t about me or Barack or these beautiful paintings.”

She continued: “What we’re looking at today, … what we are seeing is a reminder that there’s a place for everyone in this country. … It is so important for every young kid who is doubting themselves to believe they can too.”

She described the central values of America, including: “It’s a place where everyone should have a fair shot, … whether you’re a kid taking two buses and a train just to get to school, or a single mother who’s working two jobs to put some food on the table, or an immigrant just arriving, getting your first apartment, forging a future for yourself in a place you’ve dreamed of.”

She continued: “It’s about telling that fuller story, a story that includes every single American in every single corner of the country – so our kids and grandkids can see something more for themselves.”

Obama acknowledged that this is a challenging time: “Some folks might want us to believe that story has lost some of its shine, that division and discrimination and everything else might have dimmed its light.”

It’s easy for our children and teens to hear or read angry voices that cite disagreements. Between now and November’s election, people seeking office will often highlight conflicts.

There is a place for that. There are significant differences among the candidates on many issues.

However, Obama concluded: “I still know, deep in my heart, that what we share, as my husband continues to say, is so much bigger than what we don’t. Our democracy is so much stronger than our differences. And this little girl from the South Side is blessed beyond measure to have felt the truth of that fuller story throughout her entire life, never more so than today.”

The tape, courtesy of CNN, is just short of 11 minutes long. Obama spends the first five minutes graciously, sometimes humorously, thanking people. Of course you can listen to that. But for me and I think for our youngsters, the most important part of the speech is the last half.

Obama reminds each youngster that they are important. And that “every youngster has a place in this country.”

Isn’t this a great way to begin the school year? – 

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school educator and PTA president, directs the Center for School Change.  Reactions welcome at or @JoeNathan9249 on Twitter