Michelle Obama delivered the keynote address at South by Southwest in Austin, TX, on Wednesday. The First Lady promoted the Let Girls Learn initiative, which seeks to break barriers to education for girls. Obama said that 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Queen Latifah served as moderator on the keynote panel, which included Missy Elliott, Diane Warren and actress Sophia Bush.
In conjunction with her appearance at South by Southwest, Obama enlisted artists, including Elliott, Zendaya, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, Jadagrace and Chloe & Halle, to sing on the Warren-penned “This is For My Girls.” Proceeds from the empowerment anthem benefit Let Girls Learn. The track is available via iTunes.
The women on the panel at SXSW shared personal stories and talked about some of the music that had influenced and empowered them. They also took questions from the audience. One question, which Latifah said she had received from multiple people, was whether Obama would consider running for president.
“Time is almost up,” Obama remarked while reflecting on her time as FLOTUS before she broke into song with a line from Boyz II Men’s classic cover of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” This prompted Warren to tell Obama she should’ve sang on their “This is For My Girls” single. “You can sing,” Warren said.
Obama also addressed what she’ll miss about being FLOTUS before answering whether she’d run for POTUS one day. “Just experiencing this journey with our young people of all ages, I will miss that as First Lady,” she said, her voice filled with emotion. “But I’m gonna keep doing it for the rest of my life, so it’s the people. You can’t be in public life and not love people.
“It’s a hard thing to do and there’s some people who do it and they don’t love people. You gotta love people and I do,” she continued. “And I’m gonna continue to work with our young people all over the world. Not as president. I will not run for president.”
The crowd responded with disappointment. Obama cited her children, Malia and Sasha, as one of the reasons why she will not run. “I’ve got these two young people at home. And being the kids, the daughters, of the president, just think about it. Come on young people, not so easy. They’ve handled it with grace and with poise, but enough is enough.”
Last week, President Obama gave the keynote address at SXSW Interactive.