Former First Lady Michelle Obama inspires Indianapolis crowd

Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Tuesday night.
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Former First Lady Michelle Obama was in Indianapolis Tuesday, delivering a message aimed at an audience of thousands of women.

Obama's speech was not openly political, but talking to people as they left Bankers Life Fieldhouse, it got many politically motivated.

"This is a very valuable ticket," said one of hundreds of students allowed into the event.

The crowd came from every walk of life. Many Places, faces, races.

"I heard Michelle Obama and said, 'Okay, I’m going," said another student, a high school journalist.

"I’m looking forward to hear her talk about just like women empowerment and how girls can do anything, really," said student Alice O'Brien.

The night was a family affair for the O'Briens.

"It's just a great opportunity to see Michelle Obama and empower the girls to realize the future is women," said Alice's mother, Heather.

Before a sellout crowd of 12,000 people that helped raise $1 million for the Indianapolis Women’s Fund, one of the thirst first things the former first lady asked when she took the stage was "Where are the young people?"

Obama told young people her great role models were the adults around her as she grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Chicago.

"They didn’t have money to give us, but what they had was that unconditional acceptance," she said of her extended family.

She encouraged minority kids in a world that may fear them.

"You’ve got to grow up. It's hard to ignore it, but you’ve got to push through," she said. "You’ve got to put yourself in the game and be prepared" through work and education.

"You need to pick a career that lets you be your authentic self," the former first lady continued. "When you know who you are nobody can take that away from you."

She encouraged young women to think about public service, but warned, "You have to have knowledge. Please have knowledge about something."

That produced a healthy laugh in the hall.

As the crowd filed out, they shared the big takeaways from the night.

"Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself," said one person.

"If you were a young black woman or really anybody who lives in poverty, you can make it, you can do it, just believe in yourself," said Paris Walton.

Johnnie Alex heard this loud and clear.

"I really like what she said about being yourself and taking yourself into any event you go into and staying true to yourself because that’s the way you get ahead," Alex said.