“If you take anything from this eight years of us being in this White House, I want you to take that message with you, particularly all the young people here today, all the young women here today. I want you to see that it does not matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter how much money your parents have—none of that matters. Skin color, gender is the most ridiculous defining trait that we cling to. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you believe in your own potential, and that’s for sure. You have to believe in you first. Because people will try to tear you down, I guarantee you that. There will never be a point at which people will 100 percent be cheering you on. So when you hit those barriers in life, all you have is your belief in yourself. That’s all you have to fall back on.
What also matters is how hard you’re willing to work. Because none of this is easy—and it’s not supposed to be. Because then everybody could do it, right? How much work you want to put into the things you care about—President Obama works very hard. He is a serious man who takes his job seriously. And we are counting on you to be that in whatever you choose to be, whether it’s science or math or dance or teaching—you name it. None of these men and women here achieved what they achieved without working hard at it and making some sacrifices and overcoming a lot of failure. So we want you to take that away.
As Katherine Johnson has said—and these are her words—she said, ‘Stick with it. No matter the problem, it can be solved.’ And that’s really good advice. Look at this eight years. We were supposed to be hidden. People didn’t even want to believe we were real. But here we are, eight years later.
But it’s up to all of you, our young people, to continue that legacy.” —First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at a screening of the film Hidden Figures