The 8-Word Phrase That Made Robin Roberts Who She Is

One of America’s most beloved journalists reveals how her upbringing influenced her life, and how future generations can learn from her own experience.

Amanda Friedman for Reader’s Digest

Robin Roberts is undeniably down-to-earth. Though she addresses an audience of millions on Good Morning America, she talks to them as if they’re her friends. The integrity she puts into her work has earned her recognition from her peers and admiration from her fans. And at the core of it all is her family.

Roberts credits her work ethic and personal values to her upbringing by her parents, Col. Lawrence Edward Roberts and Lucimarian Tolliver. In particular, one short but powerful phrase she heard often growing up stuck with her. Before Roberts would leave the house, her mother would tell her, “You know the difference between right and wrong.” Those eight words were a constant reminder to be the best version of herself, an earworm guiding her moral compass.

“I would be out with my friends, confronting a situation where I knew what we were about to do was wrong, and I would go, ‘I gotta go home because I know the difference between right and wrong,’” she tells Reader’s Digest.

Those right decisions were often rooted in the service of others—“That was the Roberts creed”—and as the country grows evermore divided, serving others seems to give way to pointing fingers. Yet Roberts has faith that will change. As the lead judge for the Reader’s Digest 2018 Nicest Places in America contest, she saw firsthand that Americans are more alike than they are different, no matter where they’re from.

While once it was the duty of parents to teach their children lessons of respect and compassion, as Roberts’ parents did, she believes now it’s time to take an opposite approach, one where parents learn from their children.

“The kids are far more accepting, and inclusion is something that they’re teaching their parents about,” she says. “We keep saying that we’re just a generation away, a generation away from this that and the other, but I do think we are a generation away from true acceptance of each other.”

Don’t miss our full interview with the GMA newscaster.

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