Former President Barack Obama paid tribute Thursday to an outgoing local government official in South Carolina, who is credited with reinvigorating his presidential campaigns with the chant “Fired up! Ready to go!”
In a video released by her foundation, Obama praised Edith Childs’ 24 years of service to Greenwood County Council and recalled his first meeting with her during his 2008 campaign.
“It was early in my campaign, and I wasn’t doing very well,” Obama said in the four-minute video.
Obama first met Childs during a June 2007 stopover in Greenwood, where he said his enthusiasm and cheerful singing broke through the clouds of a rainy day over the campaign trail.
Despite a modest rally of supporters, Obama said, Childs quickly energized the crowd with a call-and-response format of the phrase, “Go ahead! Ready to go!”
“Lit on, ready to go, had been one of the chants, the cheers, that were used by the NAACP at the time,” he said in the video.
The chant was quickly adopted as an unofficial slogan for Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and the former president repeatedly underlined the words as part of what helped him reach the Oval Office.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Childs said she knows the wording “excited” as a way to energize crowds at NAACP voter registration events over the decades.
“Once we sang that song, it reminded us that no matter what, we have to stay motivated and ready to go, and be ready for whatever lies ahead of you,” she told L. ‘AP.
After his election, Obama invited Childs to the White House on several occasions, including his family’s first Christmas party in 2009. Years later, Childs sat alongside former first lady Michelle Obama during of the 2016 State of the Union Address.
Obama in the video recalls chanting the slogan to growing crowds as his 2008 campaign gained momentum.
“I think more than anything, what it represented was a fundamental belief that I had then and still have today, that leadership, power and inspiration can come from anywhere,” said Obama said. “It just has to do with the spirit, and no one has embodied that better than Edith.”
The Associated Press And Gregorian Dareh contributed.