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Often still ringing in the ears of many, Michelle Obama’s motto “When they go low, we go high” is also a call to action. 

That said, the former First Lady recently acknowledged not everyone feels motivated by her encouragement to take the high road.

While recently speaking with Obama, NPR’s Juana Summers brought up that many young people would like to “go high” but often feel a sense of urgency or rage because of the “hurt, harm and marginalization” happening.

Confronting that dilemma, Obama said, “That’s the interesting thing. Because some young people interpret going high is being complacent.”

“Going high doesn’t mean sitting on the side of the road and watching injustice go by. Going high is about having a strategy. A real concrete strategy for change,” Obama emphasized. “It’s taking the rage and turning it into reason so that you can actually be heard and move toward change.”

“The other thing I try to remind young people is that it’s easy to look at what your predecessors have done and to say, ‘Not enough. Why not – why not faster? Why not better, why not bigger?'” Obama later added. “And what I say is, young people aren’t wrong to feel that. But in the meantime, what I’d urge young people to do is be rageful, and own it. But have a plan.”


Michelle Obama infamously shared the motto, “When they go low, we go high,” during her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. 

In her NPR interview, Obama encouraged young people to really weigh how going high versus acting based on their gut feelings or rage might impact the outcomes of the change they’re trying to achieve in the long term.

The former first lady highlighted that finding that balance was a skill she practiced herself — especially during her time in the White House.

“Given my motto, ‘When they go low, we go high,’ a lot of people these days have been struggling to figure out how to stay high when it feels like the world is in a low place,” Obama said. “And so this book is my best attempt at offering people at least a look into my toolbox, the practices and habits, the people who keep me balanced.”


Obama’s new book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, is now available via all major book retailers. 

Read more from the author’s recent NPR interview down below.

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