Speech by Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama’s half-sister, at the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 It's an honor to be here tonight, and it's been an honor to meet so many of you across this country and hear your stories. Tonight, I want to share my story about growing up with my big brother, Barack Obama, a truly hard act to follow. When we were young, our family didn't have much in the way of wealth, but what we did have was far more important. We had people who made us believe that with a little imagination, we could dream the improbable; that through hard work, we could accomplish the extraordinary; that through the power of education, we could propel ourselves to a future far more promising than our circumstances led us to expect. Perhaps most importantly, we had our mother. I've thought of her often during this campaign and wish she were here to see it. She was a sturdy woman and an eternal optimist who understood that parents are our first and best teachers. She encouraged us to explore and ask questions and delight in unexpected discoveries and surprising answers. She brought us to telescopes and microscopes to remind us that there was a world beyond our limited reach and that we should sometimes have faith in what we could not see. Above all, she was a storyteller. She told us tales from history about heroism in the face of injustice, about beauty breaking through darkness. These stories suggested that our deepest humanity and happiness would be found by reaching out to, empathizing with and working to serve others. In these interconnected times, we need such stories. Like our mother, Barack opened my mind and spirit to a broader world. He took me to festivals and museums, introduced me to people from many different neighborhoods and backgrounds, and taught me about the importance of standing up for what you believe. I loved to watch him in action, working with such commitment, really listening to people, bringing them together to solve their own problems. In these challenging times, we need those skills and that sense of unwavering responsibility. As a U.S. history teacher, I try to make our country's fascinating story leap from the page for my students. Woven throughout that history is the story of our capacity to hope and achieve, even during the toughest times. Many of the children I taught in public and charter schools in New York City and Hawaii had never traveled beyond their neighborhoods for fear of feeling like outsiders. I wanted them to know that they belonged to something greater. I wanted them to imagine wider, dream bigger and reach higher, to realize they had more power than they knew. That is what this nation gave to Barack, and that is what he wants for his daughters, and my daughter, and every single child in this country: bountiful opportunity. It is a gift he has already given us in this campaign. I've seen it everywhere I travel in people of every age, faith, background and walk of life, reaching out to one another, staking their own dreams on what we do together in this election. And I know that if we elect Barack as president, he'll be there for you just as he's always been there for me. I know he'll help you realize your dreams just as he's helped me realize mine. I know we'll make our mothers proud, and, together, we will leave for our children a better nation. Thank you.
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