Former first lady Michelle Obama said Thursday she stands by her “when they go low, we go high” motto despite calls this week by some high-profile Democrats to do the opposite.
"Fear is not a proper motivator,” Obama said. “Hope wins out. If you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?"
She added that in thinking about which values to promote for children, "you have to think about which motto do you want them to live by."
U.S. & World
The day's top national and international news.
Obama coined the "we go high" phrase during her 2016 speech at the Democratic National Convention and it became a motto for Democrats on how to respond to Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
But former Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday at a campaign event in Georgia that Democrats need a new slogan, and suggested: “When they go low, we kick them.” A few days later, Clinton said in an interview with CNN, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about."
"What are the things you’re telling your girls? Which motto do you want them to live by?" Obama, who has two daughters of her own, said. "I have to think about that as a mother, as someone who’s a role model to young girls. We want them to grow up with promise and hope, and we can’t model something different if we want them to be better than that."
Obama has mostly kept a low profile since leaving the White House in January 2017, limiting her public commitments to helping When We All Vote, which says it encourages participation regardless of political affiliation. She announced Thursday on the “Today” show the launch of a new initiative aimed to empower adolescent girls around the world through education.
The Global Girls Alliance, which supports grass roots organizations in local communities around the world and connects its leaders “so they can learn from each other,” was rolled out on Oct. 11 to coincide with the International Day of the Girl.
“We want to play a role in building an alliance of young people that are out there doing the work on the ground and we want to give them an opportunity to network with one another,” Obama told “Today” hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. ”Leaders need access to resources and technical support. The alliance is going to provide that for them.”
As the first African American first lady of the United States, Obama said she wanted every girl in the world to have the same kind of opportunities that she had and that her daughters have.
“The stats show that when you educate a girl you educate a family, a community, a country. It makes no sense that the strength of our family — girls and women — are not getting educated, that they are not in school. If we care about climate change, if we care about poverty, if we care about maternal child health, then we have to care about education.”
The United Nations declared Oct. 11 the International Day of the Girl in 2011 in order "to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential."
This year’s theme, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce, aims to highlight the need for supporting education and training programs for girls in developing countries.
"Of the one billion young people — including 600 million adolescent girls — that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common," the United Nations campaign says.
Global Girls Alliance has teamed up with GoFundMe to provide a fundraising source for anyone who wants to help.
Obama also talked about life after the White House and revealed the secret to a happy marriage.
“Separate bathrooms,” she quipped.