May I have a Wednesday Word with you?
Weeks later, and I am still thinking of Michelle Obama’s brilliant, master class of a speech in the wake of Donald Trump’s gross and vile statements recorded while he was working (and not palling around in a locker room). That’s a testament to how powerful her speech was. I also am thinking of the near-universal outrage expressed after the release of the recording.
But all outrage is not equal. And it was a reminder for us all to take greater care when we write and speak about each other as human beings. Take a look at the following quotes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”
I appreciate their outrage, but look deeper at their statements. “As the father of three girls” and “championed and revered” lessen the impact of what otherwise would have been strong statements.
Why? Two reasons. The first statement makes it seem as if women only can be spoken about in relation to other men, as if it takes a man to validate us human beings. The “championed and revered” phrase in the second statement otherizes and patronizes women, as if we are some sort of odd creatures instead of–wait for it–human beings.
Emily L. Hauser perfectly captures this sense:
This is a can’t-miss speech.
First Lady Michelle Obama spoke in Manchester, New Hampshire last week at a presidential campaign event on behalf of Secretary Hillary Clinton. But this speech was no mere campaign stump speech. It was a speech that Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor described as a “master class” that “…should be required viewing for every leader.”
Her speech named the disrespect so often aimed at women and rebuked it. And in so doing, the First Lady elevated our discourse, reminding us to remember the dignity and worth of every human being, young and old.
Her speech demands our attention. Make time to watch and listen to her important words.
The split screen doesn’t lie. Neither do the words.
Melania Trump (or her team) plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech delivered before the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Full stop.
Whether you take her at her word that she wrote the speech with as little help as possible or believe that she relied on a speechwriter (or a team of writers), that speech was plagiarized. Regardless of the denials of the Trump campaign, or the minimizing attempted by campaign surrogates.
This is something you do not do. Ever.
Never use other people’s words as your own without attribution.
It is wrong. Your deceit will be uncovered–quickly (hat tip to Jarrett Hill–credited as the first to notice the plagiarized passage and to tweet about it).
So don’t do it. Don’t even be tempted by it.
Today’s Monday Motivation is a quote from Jackie Robinson, a man who fought to desegregate American life–most notably, on the baseball diamond.
A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. –Jackie Robinson
Robinson, of course, had quite an impact on many lives in our country, and beyond our shores. And we will be able to learn more about his impact in the new Ken Burns documentary, “Jackie Robinson.” It airs in two parts–tonight and tomorrow–on PBS. The President and First Lady also appear in the documentary.
OK, so this post is not about a speech or presentation. Nor is it about a Cycle class. But this video is so delightful and inspiring that I was moved to share it here.
Besides, this Monday Motivation is about movement. That’s close enough, is it not?
Courtesy The White House
Virginia McLaurin, at 106 years young, fulfilled a dream–to be able to visit the White House. She did so as part of a Black History Month celebration. At 106, McLaurin most certainly has her own life lessons to teach us, with all that she has seen and experienced.
One lesson she teaches is how to enjoy the moments before us, and to live like we mean it. McLaurin didn’t hold back when she was introduced to the President and First Lady. She savored it. She walked fast. She danced. She displayed more energy and vigor upon meeting the Obamas than some folks who are a quarter of her age.
So my takeaways for the day, and week?
First, we are never old to see our dreams come true.
And second? The secret to long life, according to McLaurin, is to “just keep movin’.” I’m sold!
Michelle Obama: “I wanna be like you when I grow up.”
Virginia McLaurin: “You can.”
We all can–if we just keep movin’.
Such excitement surrounds His Holiness’ visit. I feel it, too. President Obama and the First Lady will greet the Pope at Joint Base Andrews, along with Vice President and Dr. Biden, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia and Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
That type of welcome to the United States rarely happens.
I especially await the message he will bring to Capitol Hill during a joint session of Congress on September 24. (I will post the speech as soon as transcripts and video are available.)
So, before he lands on North American soil, watch a “virtual visit” Pope Francis made a couple of weeks ago to parishioners in cities he wouldn’t have time to visit. Watch especially at the 2:25 mark, as he encouraged a girl who had once been bullied to sing for him. Of course, she was nervous. Truth be told, I’d be nervous, too.
But he–speaking in English–encouraged her to be courageous. The moment was pure magic. It was also another example of how the Pontiff connects with his audience: using the power of his moral authority; speaking with warmth; and showing a bit of humility by speaking in English, which is not his strongest language. He was demonstrating some courage, too.
Be courageous, everyone! Speak, and act, with courage.
And welcome, Pope Francis.
Our Wednesday Word is a dose of inspiration from First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Hugger-in-Chief delivered the commencement to address to the graduating class at Martin Luther King Jr. Preparatory High School, verbally wrapping the students in a warm embrace with her wise words to them as they move to the next phase of their lives.
Before sharing her “lessons learned” with the graduating class, she made this statement:
I want you all to know, graduates, that with your roots in this community and your education from this school, you have everything — you hear me, everything — you need to succeed. (emphasis mine.)
Read the speech when you have time. But telling these young people–and us all–that we have what it takes to live full, productive and meaningful lives is a message well worth taking to heart.
“You have everything…you need to succeed.”
And that’s your Wednesday Word.
First Lady Michelle Obama recently delivered a deeply moving commencement address at Tuskegee University.
The First Lady certainly would understand if you missed it. After all, she delivered the address on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. As “Mom-in-Chief,” I think she would give you a pass.
That said–her address is excellent. Read the transcript, or watch below.
Courtesy of tuskegeevirtual