For the first time since her husband's re-election, Michelle Obama spoke today about immigration in her keynote address to the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the U.S., National Council de La Raza, a speech primarily focused on children and food.
Making only one brief mention at the beginning of her speech of the immigration reform battle taking place in Washington, she asked the group at its New Orleans convention not to lose heart despite the difficult road.
"I know these debates are hard, particularly on immigration," she said. "But do not give up, because I promise you my husband won't give up until a good bill gets on his desk. That's because in the end these issues are about one simple thing: They're about achieving the American Dream. They're about building a country where no matter who you are or where you're from or what you look like or who you love you can build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids."
She then switched to her more familiar theme of children and food. The first lady told the audience she is not "a treat hater" and not trying to do away with the traditional foods we have all grown up eating.
She even mentioned her own grandfather, who she said was known affectionately as "Southside," and his "legendary" barbecue ribs.
"Many of my best memories from childhood center around food," she told the audience. "It is no coincidence that the kitchen is the central gathering place for so many of us in our homes."
She emphasized however, that even though food and the feeling that "special occasions call for special foods" are important in their communities, it is critical to recognize the "devastating" effect food decisions have on children, with nearly 40 percent of the children in African American and Hispanic communities being classified as overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than a third of all children and adolescents in America are overweight or obese.
In fact, she said her trip to New Orleans would prove her flexibility.
"I eat a balanced diet and I work out every day of the week without exception," she said. "No way I am leaving this city without a good meal… no way, not going to happen."
The first lady used the occasion to urge NCLR members to encourage young people to sign up for insurance beginning Oct. 1, when group coverage is offered to those not covered by employer insurance.
She told the group to remind the young in their lives they are not invincible and need to prepare for unforeseen health issues.
"We all have someone walking around today without insurance because they don't think they need it," she said. "Use the power of our voices to give our children…blessing of good health."
Her 20-minute speech was greeted with warm applause.