First lady Michelle Obama delivered a keynote speech at South by Southwest on Wednesday to shed light on the lack of opportunities for the 62 million girls around the world not enrolled in school.
But the most dramatic moment of a conversation moderated by Queen Latifah was when the first lady was asked if she’d ever run for president. The crowd erupted in applause at the suggestion.
“I will not run for president,” Obama said, using her daughters Sasha and Malia as a reason. “I have these two young people at home. Being the daughters of a president, just think about it. Not so easy. They handled it with grace and poise.”
When asked about the end of her eight years at the White House, Obama said, “Time is almost up,” before singing a line from the Boyz II Men song: “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”
She talked about what she’d miss the most from her role as first lady. “The young people that I interact with every day,” Obama said. “Young people keep me inspired.” She added: “You can’t be in public life and not love people. It’s a hard thing to do.”
Obama was joined onstage as part of SXSW’s music programming with a panel that included singer Missy Elliott, actress Sophia Bush and songwriter Diane Warren.
Obama explained that many young girls’ dreams are crushed, which inspired “Let Girls Learn,” a government initiative started by the president and first lady to enroll and keep girls in school. “Let’s not forget about him, the president,” Obama joked. “He was involved, too.”
“When I was younger, it was always the doubters,” Obama said. “Growing up as a black girl in the South Side of Chicago, where the expectations were limited, there were always people around telling me what I couldn’t do. Always telling me how far I should dream. My reaction to that was to prove the doubters wrong.”
She also urged the men in the audience to step up and help inspire change. “When you have a seat at the table and you have access to power, the question you can ask yourselves: Is there diversity around the table?” Obama said. “If you’re a man at the table and there are only men at the table, you should ask yourself — how can I do better?”