This week, First Lady Michelle Obama attended the 49th General Session of the African Methodist Episcopal Church General Conference. She delivered a poignant address on the proud history of social and political engagement in the black church, and reminded the over 10,000 attendees that the challenges we face today require us all to be "active, engaged" citizens.
After reflecting on the courage of previous generations, the First Lady told the attendees:
You see, today, the connection between our laws and our lives isn’t always as clear as it was 50 years or 150 years ago. And as a result, it’s sometimes easy to assume that the battles in our courts and legislatures have all been won. It’s tempting to turn our focus to what’s going on in our own lives and with our own families, and just leave it at that.
And make no mistake about it, change absolutely starts at home. Change absolutely starts with each of us, as individuals, taking responsibility for ourselves and our families because we know that our kids won't grow up healthy until our families start eating right and exercising more. That's on us. We know that we won’t close that education gap until we turn off the TV, and supervise homework, attend those parent-teacher conferences, and serve as good role models for our own children. That's on us.
But while we certainly need to start at home, we all know that we cannot stop there because the fact is that our laws still matter. Much like they did 50 years ago, or 150 years ago, our laws still shape so many aspects of our lives: Whether folks are paying their fair [share of] taxes, or not; whether we invest in roads and schools, and the jobs that come with them, or not; whether our sons and our daughters who wear our country’s uniform get the support and benefits they’ve earned, or not. You see, those decisions are made by the folks sitting in Congress and in our White House. They're made by the folks in our state legislatures and city halls. And we all know who's supposed to select those folks, don't we? We know who's supposed to tell those folks what to do, right? We are. That’s our job. That is our most fundamental right and our most solemn obligation – to cast our ballots and have our say in the laws that shape our lives.
You can read the rest of the First Lady’s remarks here.