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Michelle Obama: ‘No Place Better’ than Church to Talk Politics

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — First lady Michelle Obama brought an audience of 10,000 African Methodist Episcopal Church members to their feet Thursday as she exhorted them to get involved in the issues that affect their lives.
Speaking at the AME Church’s 49th General Conference in Nashville, Obama praised the church for its role in fighting slavery, segregation and disenfranchisement of blacks, but she told them the struggle is not over.
It can be difficult to address challenges like childhood obesity, poor schools and unsafe neighborhoods, she said.
“The path forward for the next generation can be far from clear,” she said.
But she told the crowd that laws still matter and still shape our lives.

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Text of Michelle Obama’s Nashville Speech

From the White House Communications Office:
Remarks by the First Lady at the African Methodist Episcopal Church Conference at Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, June 27, 2012:
11:05 A.M. CDT
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my, my, my. (Applause.) Please, you all rest yourselves. Thank you so much. Let me tell you, it is such a pleasure and an honor to join you today in Nashville for your 2012 General Conference.
I want to start by thanking Bishop McKenzie for her introduction. And I want to honor her for the history she’s made —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Amen!
MRS. OBAMA: Absolutely. (Applause.) For the example she has set and for her inspired leadership in this church.
I also want to thank Mayor Dean for his service to this city and for taking the time to join us here today.
And finally, I want to thank all of the bishops, pastors, and lay leaders in AME churches here in America and around the world. (Applause.)
You all are part of a proud tradition, one that dates back to the founding of that first AME Church and the founding of this nation and has shaped its history every day since. You all know the story — how back in the late 1700s, a man named Richard Allen bought his freedom from slavery — (applause) — became a minister, and eventually founded a Methodist church called Bethel Church – or “Mother Bethel” as we know it today. That first AME church was located in a blacksmith’s shop, and that first congregation had just a few dozen members.
But there’s a reason why one pastor called Bethel’s founding “a Liberty bell for black folks.” (Applause.) There’s a reason why W.E.B. Dubois said that Bethel Church “belongs to the history of the nation rather than to any one city.”

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