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米歇尔·奥巴马《丰富之旅》发言稿(全文)

  MRS. OBAMA: Hello! (Applause.) Well, hellothere. Yay, yay, yay! You guys rest. Sit yourselves down. Welcome to the White House – or the buildingacross the street from the White House. (Laughter.) It’s the samething. I am so glad you all could joinus as we celebrate African American History Month. And I want to thank Valerie for thatintroduction and for everything she’s doing to have our backs and to take careof stuff in this country every single day.

  I also want to give a bigshoutout to all the college students here from schools in and around D.C. andBaltimore. Yay to all of you. (Applause.) You’re working hard, right?

  STUDENTS: Yes.

  MRS. OBAMA: Getting the grades, right?

  STUDENTS: Yes.

  MRS. OBAMA: That’s all I’m going to say. (Laughter.) Very proud of you all.

  And I would also like torecognize all of you representing some of our country’s leading women’sorganizations. And, as Valerie said,thank you for being here today and working so hard to get folks signed up forhealth care over these past few months. This is a little bit of a reward for your hard work, right? Just a little something.

  And finally, I want to thank ourspecial guests that are here with us – Michele Norris from National PublicRadio, as well as the cast of “The Trip to Bountiful.” Blair Underwood – ah! (Laughter and applause.) Vanessa Williams – the men go, ah! (Applause.) Keke Palmer, my girl. (Applause.) And of course, theone and only Cicely Tyson. (Applause.) Yes, indeed! I told Ms. Tyson I’m trying to be like herwhen I grow up. (Laughter.)

  This is so exciting. It is a wonderful movie, and I am so thrilledthat we had the opportunity to show it here at the White House. And I had the pleasure of seeing the Broadwayplay last summer in New York with my girls, and we were blown away by thisstory of persistence and hope and the ties that bind us all together.

  It’s a story that makes us thinkback to the house we all grew up in, right; the things that our moms and dads,grandparents used to say to us, the path that all of us have taken to come hereand be who we are today. And nowheredoes that sense of home come through more clearly than in Ms. Tyson’s movingportrayal of Carrie Watts. That was alot of dialogue, that was a lot of monologue to remember. I can barely remember what I’m supposed to dothe next hour. (Laughter.) Impressive.

  This was a role Ms. Tyson hadbeen waiting to play for decades, and it’s a role that helped her win a TonyAward for Best Actress in a Play – and that’s in addition to all the otherOscar nominations and the three Emmys that she’s already won. But Ms. Tyson’s story is about so much morethan honors and accolades. It is reallyabout character – can we say that again, young people – character anddetermination. And it’s about breakingbarriers not just for herself but for all of us who are blessed by herlegacy.

  Ms. Tyson grew up in the New YorkCity tenements, and her father was a carpenter and her mother cleanedhouses. And as a child, Ms. Tyson soldshopping bags on the street to help her family get by. And after she graduated from high school, shetook a job as a secretary, and then pursued modeling and acting. But this was the early ‘60s, and thereweren’t many roles for black women – still a challenge today. So Ms. Tyson took whatever parts she couldfind.

  Two of the first characters sheplayed on stage were prostitutes. Andsoon after, she was offered a third role – again, as a prostitute. But this time Ms. Tyson said no, because shebelieved that playing only those types of roles was demeaning not just to herbut to black women everywhere. And asshe later said – and these are her words – she said, “When I became aware ofthe kind of ignorance that existed, I made a very conscious decision that Icould not afford the luxury of just being an actress. I decided that I had some very importantthings to say, and that I would say them through my work.” She said, “There are people who wave bannersand picket,” she said, “my platform happens to be my work.”

  Now, just hear that, young folks,for a while, as you start pursuing your opportunities. There is more to your life than just pursuingyour own work. So much of what we all dowill impact everyone who follows us. Soin the decades that have followed Ms. Tyson, she has used her work to carrythat banner forward, even if it meant waiting years between roles until shefound one that was acceptable to her. But, as we all know, make no mistake, she found those roles. They found her. It was undeniable. She’s won accolades for her portrayals ofstrong, resilient women like Harriet Tubman, a sharecropper’s wife, KuntaKinte’s mother in the famous miniseries “Roots” – we all know “Roots,” we allgathered round to watch “Roots” – (applause) – and now, Carrie Watts.

  And that’s truly what we arecelebrating this month – those who moved us past ignorance with their wisdomand perseverance, those who demanded more from the world around them, and thosewho reached for higher standards through their life’s work, whether that’s as amovie star like Ms. Tyson or the millions of folks out there like Carrie Watts –folks who did their work in a classroom or in a congregation or around thekitchen table.

  Because it is that slow, grindingwork of progress that all too often, like Bountiful itself, goes unnoticed,almost forgotten. But we will neverforget, right? Because, as Carrie Wattssays from in front of her old house at the end of the movie, she said, “We’reall a part of this. We can never losewhat it’s given us.”

  And that’s what African AmericanHistory Month is all about. It’s abouthonoring those who came before us. It’sabout resolving to do our part to live up to that example. So let us all resolve today to do justthat. But let’s do that every day, notjust February. (Laughter.) There’s a lot of days in the year, let’s justkeep doing it.

  And we are counting on our youngpeople – let me just say for a moment – to take up that mantle. So in order to do that, you all have to beright. You have to have your stufftogether. You have to be clear of mindand clear of heart. You’ve got to beeducated, because we’re counting on you. We’re not going to solve these problems in our lifetimes, but we’regoing to pass them on to you. So that’swhy we’re so proud to have you here, and so proud to have you be a part of thisconversation.

  So I’m going to turn it over andlet you get to the business of talking, but I want to encourage all of you tofeel at home. Raise your hand, askquestions – especially our young people. Jump in, use your voices. Becausethis is a rare opportunity – do not be shy about it.

  And I want to thank you all forbeing here. I want to thank you all foreverything that you do for your families and for our communities and for ourcountry. We are so proud of you. And now, it is my pleasure to turn this stageover to my dear friend Michele Norris who is going to open things up for awonderful panel discussion with the cast.

  So thank you, guys. Have a good time, and God bless you all. (Applause.)

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