Former President Obama has congratulated Edith Childs, the originator of the “Fired up, ready to go” chant, on her retirement.
In a statement through his nonprofit organization, the Obama Foundation, Obama said he took time to make a video call to Childs, who serves on the Greenwood, S.C., city council, on her retirement from her position.
Obama recalled that the time he first heard the now-widely-used chant was during a campaign stop in Greenwood during his 2007 presidential campaign, saying that Childs started that chant at the event with only 20 people in attendance.
“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 said in the video.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Childs, a longtime member of the NAACP, said that she came to know the rallying cry after decades of working for NAACP-led voter registration drives.
The chant went on to become an official rallying cry used in Obama’s two presidential campaigns, being used on T-shirts, signs and bumper stickers.
Obama has also kept a close-knit relationship with Childs. The councilmember attended several events during Obama’s tenure at the White House, led delegates with the chant during the 2012 Democratic National Convention and attended Obama’s final State of the Union addresses in 2016.
The “Fired up, ready to go” chant was used by local politicians in Childs’s home state and by billionaire businessman Tom Steyer during his 2020 presidential campaign.
Childs added that she’ll continue to work as a community organizer after she retires, telling Obama in a video call that the next generation of leaders shouldn’t try to imitate anyone. “Just be themselves and if you be yourself then you’ll do fine,” 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 Associated Press contributed to this report