The First Lady compared her struggle to succeed as a young black woman in America to the experience of inner-city Muslim girls
Michelle Obama compared her struggle to succeed as a young black woman in America to the experience of British Muslim girls during a visit to in inner-city girls school in London.
The First Lady, who is visiting the UK for two days, and met with Prince Harry this morning, struggled to hold back tears as she gave an emotional speech to Mulberry School for Girls in London’s Tower Hamlets.
She’ll meet with Prime Minister David Cameron later today.
She said: “Girls like you inspire me and impress me every single day.
“When I look out at all these young women, I see myself. In so many ways your story is my story.”
She told the audience – including the whole school, many of whom are watching the speech live-streamed to the School sports hall, she grew up in a working class neighbourhood on the south side of Chicago, where people work hard to make ends meet.
She added: “My parents told me I could grow up to do anything – but only if I worked hard in school.”
Mrs Obama drew links between the experience of young black women in America to the struggles faced by British Muslim girls.
She said: “Maybe you see the news and see people talking about your religion, and wonder if anyone will ever see beyond your headscarf.”
The First Lady is visiting the UK with her mother and two teenage daughters, Malia and Sasha.
In her emotional speech, which was live streamed to the whole school, many of which watched from a nearby sports hall, she told the students they could accomplish anything if they worked hard.
She said: “I see a room full of surgeons and business leaders and barristers. I see women who are going to win elections.
“I see a room full of leaders who are going to inspire people not just in Tower Hamlets but all across the country and all around the world.
“And I’ve seen it again and again that what our parents told us really is true. That if we get our education we can do anything. We can lift up our sights to anything we can imagine. We truly can be builders of a new day.”
After her speech she took questions from pupils, and was joined by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Earlier in the day, Mrs Obama, her mother and daughters joined Prince Harry for tea at Kensington Palace.
She shared one of the subjects she discussed with the Prince.
She said: “We have to change the definition of what it means to support our young girls.
“Prince Harry mentioned this. He said it’s important to have male voices at the table on this issue.
“Oftentimes it’s going to be the brother or the father in a community speaking up that’s going to change the way a community responds to the challenge of getting girls in school.”
She also stressed the importance of young people understanding politics if they want to affect change in their communities.