IN QUOTES | Racial segregation, lessons and equality: Michelle and Barack Obama at summit

30 October 2019 - 08:53 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle addressed audiences during the Obama Summit on Tuesday.
Former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle addressed audiences during the Obama Summit on Tuesday.
Image: Jim Young / AFP

Former US president and first lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, addressed the audience during the Obama Foundation Summit on Tuesday. The summit, which marked its third year, featured activists and writers including Ava DuVernay, and addressed issues such as racism and women empowerment.

Here's what the power couple said in five quotes:

Racial segregation - Michelle Obama 

“I want to remind white people that you were running from us. You're still running because we are no different from the immigrant families that are moving in, the families in Pilsen, the families that are moving in from other places to try to do better, but because we can so easily wash over who we really were because of the colour of our skin, texture of our hair, that's what divides countries.”

Aspire to serve, not for positions - Barack Obama 

“Worry more about what you want to do, than what you want to be. A lot of people got into politics because they got the idea in their head of 'I want to be a congressman, or MP'. When that is your focus, you may spend 10 years just trying to be something and when you get there, you have no idea what you want to do with it.”

We took our lessons with us - Michelle Obama 

“Everything Barack and I did at the White House was tied to what we were taught in our homes by our parents, teachers, communities and friends. You don't leave that, you take that with you, especially when you're the first black family.”

Life threatening activism - Barack Obama 

“There are parts of the world in which being an activist is not just a matter of sacrificing higher pay or having longer hours or experiencing frustration, there are parts where you may be jailed, killed or your family may be threatened and lose their livelihoods because you've been exercising your activism. My advice is do what you can and if at any point the threats get to be too great, you should not feel as if you are somehow compromised, if you decide to be careful about how you tackle these issues.”

Social justice equals economic justice - Barack Obama

“Advocates on social justice, cannot ignore economic justice. It is important for us to constantly incorporate an awareness of what may be economic impediments on justice.”