CHICAGO — This week, President Obama surprised Edith Childs, originator of the “Fired Up, Ready to Go!” chant, in a video call to congratulate her on her retirement from the Greenwood County Council and celebrate her decades of service to her community. Then-Senator Obama first met Childs in Greenwood, SC at a campaign event in 2007 where she led a small crowd in what eventually would become one of the most enduring rallying cries of President Obama’s 2008 campaign: “Fired up, Ready to go!”
“Just her being there cheered me up. And as we walked away, I said to my team… ‘I’m feeling kind of fired up. Are you?’… and that chant eventually we’d do in front of 100,000 people at huge rallies as the campaign went on,” President Obama recalls in the video.
Before her election to the Greenwood County Council in 1998, Childs served on the school board and was a longtime member of the NAACP. Originally a chant she learned through her work with the NAACP, “Fired up, Ready to go!” became a famed campaign cheer inspired by the story of how one voice can make a difference. “[W]hat it represented was a core belief that I had then and continue to have now, that leadership and power and inspiration can come from anywhere,” President Obama said. “It just has to do with spirit. And nobody embodied that better than Edith.”
During their call, President Obama asked Childs what advice she’s been giving the next generation of leaders. “Don’t try to imitate anyone. Just be themselves and if you be yourself then you’ll do fine. That’s what I’ve done all my life. What you see is what you get,” Childs said. As she retires from elected office, she has no intention of disappearing. “I’m still busy out in the community doing what I do,” she said.
“[Y]ou have made a difference in the lives of your town and your community. And you’ve made a difference in my campaign and my life,” President Obama told Childs. “And I just wanted to let you know how much we all love you and appreciate you and are grateful for your service, and just that positive attitude that you have that keeps people fired up and keeps them ready to go.”
The Obama Foundation’s mission is to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. That mission begins on the South Side of Chicago, where the Foundation is building the Obama Presidential Center with a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates our nation’s first African American President and First Lady. The Center will revisit stories like Edith’s and serve as a reminder to all visitors—from around the city and from around the world—that if one voice can change a room, it can change the world. The Obama Presidential Center broke ground in September of 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2025.
Contact: Gloria Nlewedim, [email protected]