Earlier today, President Obama shared the message below with our email list, reflecting on his meeting with Edith Childs. If you’d like to receive email updates like these, you can sign up here.
This is Edith Childs.
I met Edith in 2007, at a small get-together in Greenwood, South Carolina. It was the early days of my campaign for president, and I was still finding my way as a candidate.
I walked into the event in Greenwood after an hour and a half in the car. It was raining that day and there were only 20 people.
But as I went around the room to shake people’s hands and thank them for coming, I suddenly heard this voice cry out, “Fired up!”
And people shouted back, “Fired up!”
Then I heard, “Ready to go!”
And everyone shouted, “Ready to go!”
I looked to see where the voice had come from, and there was Edith. I later learned that she had been active in the local NAACP and served on the Greenwood County Council. She was known in the community for raising people’s spirits.
When we left the event, I told my staff, “I’m feeling kind of fired up. Are you fired up?”
And they’d say, “Yeah, I’m fired up.”
“Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah I’m feeling ready to go.”
We went on to do that chant in front of huge crowds of people across the county. Edith’s story was an example of how one person can change a room, and the ripple effect can go much further. And it spoke to a core belief of mine that leadership or inspiration can come from anywhere – and anyone.
Edith recently announced she was stepping down after 24 years on the Greenwood County Council. We reconnected so I could congratulate her on her years of service, and hear some of her advice for the next generation of leaders.
Congratulations, Edith, and best of luck with your next chapter.