Michelle Obama brought down the house. Here are 5 incredible quotes.

Michelle Obama made it clear that America is already great.

If you watched the DNC last night, you heard a lot of speeches.

And some booing.

And probably some inaudible chanting.


But there was one thing that was simply unforgettable: Michelle Obama's speech.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Democrats and Republicans alike were in awe of the first lady’s emotional remarks.


What exactly did Michelle say that was so moving? Here are five quotes from Michelle Obama's speech that you should probably keep handy for whenever someone questions if America really is all that awesome.

1. “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent black young women — playing on the White House lawn.”

Despite America’s horrifying history with race, African-Americans have risen up against slavery, lynching, discrimination, and hate.

GIF from the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

While race relations in the U.S. are far from perfect right now, the way Michelle looks at her daughters playing on the White House lawn is the way that I (and so many other black people) have looked at the entire Obama family over the course of eight years — with a sense of hope and possibility for a future where all Americans have an equal chance at the America Dream.

2. "With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us."

Adding responsibility to her words, Michelle Obama made an excellent point about our need to be role models for our children, because they are watching us throughout this election. "We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but to the children across this country..." She went on to add, whether you're the POTUS, a parent, or an adult living your day-to-day life, you are still an example to a child. We decide what kind of actions we want our kids to see. And with our votes, we get to determine the future of America.

3. "When they go low, we go high.”

GIF from the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

This one ruffled some feathers, but the FLOTUS knows a thing or two about going high when others go low. The two-time Ivy League grad (she's the first First Lady to have those kind of credentials) has talked candidly in the past about facing racism and sexism during her college years and professional years.

But she has gone high when others have gone low, and her words were an important reminder that we all have the power to do so during this election cycle.

4. "And when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other. No, we listen to each other, we lean on each other because we are always stronger together."

When people lined up in droves to donate blood after the tragedy in Orlando, we were stronger together.

When religious communities around the country came together to honor the Charleston 9, we were stronger together.

And when we said no to hate and yes to love, Americans were stronger together.

Those are just a few examples of America letting its soul and dedication to liberty and justice for all take the lead. And Michelle reminded us that together, in times of happiness and times of distress, we are an unshakeable nation.


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

5. "Don't let anyone tell you that our country isn't great, that somehow we need to make it great again, because right now, this is the greatest country on Earth."

When America falls down, we get back up with a vengeance. When we see bigotry and complacency taking place, people from all over the country mobilize to stop that hate. We hold our elected officials to a high standard, and we call them out when they fail to adhere to what is right. We use our democracy to demand justice, even when it's hard or uncomfortable.

Our melting pot of a population — immigrants, minorities, LGBTQ folks, folks with disabilities, folks of all colors and backgrounds — also makes our country great.

And yes, we have a ways to go. But this kind of an America is an America worth fighting for.

"That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward, by all of us coming together on behalf of our children, folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village."

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Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


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Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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