Eight years after her infectious call-and-response slogan energized President Barack Obama’s campaign at a crucial point, Edith Childs will be watching the Democrat’s final State of the Union speech Tuesday up close — from the first lady’s box.
The Greenwood resident is known for her “Fired up! Ready to go!” chant that became the unofficial rallying cry of Obama’s 2008 campaign when his road to the White House seemed anything but certain.
Childs, 66, a retired nurse and longtime activist, first met then-U.S. Sen. Obama in Greenwood in 2007. After a late-night flight and drive from Greenville, the candidate arrived at the town’s civic center on a rainy morning to find a small group of just 38 supporters waiting.
Childs decided the little gathering needed a boost.
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“I didn’t know what was going on, but everybody else in the room just said, `Fired up.’ Then I heard a voice say, `Ready to go,'“ Obama recalled in 2008. “I turned behind me and I see this woman, about 5-2, 5-3. She’s dressed like she’s going to church; she’s got a church hat on. She looks right at me, she smiles and she says, `Fired up!' “
The same chant was repeated at a rally in Aiken and soon the slogan could be seen on the T-shirts and signs of Obama’s supporters across the country.
Obama invited Childs to the White House for the first holiday celebration of his presidency in 2009.
Childs also was chosen to be a S.C. delegate at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Denver, where she led 20,000 people in the now-famous chant.
Childs lives in Greenwood with her husband, Charles. They have three children and six grandchildren.
Childs will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden when Obama delivers his seventh and final State of the Union speech, in recognition of “her ability to distill the enthusiasm that helped carry (Obama) to the White House,” the administration said in a statement.