January 19, 2017
By Niele Anderson
Creative, innovative, a scholar of Harvard and Princeton all the while still the home girl from the Southside of Chicago. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama has been one of the most relatable first ladies in modern history. She has given us LIFE through her style of dress, her beauty and brains, her passion for public service and her example of family by being a loving daughter, sibling, nurturing mother, a devoted wife and an AWESOME First Lady.
She’s given dozens of Commencement speeches, graced the cover of just about every national and international magazine and has appeared on every late night and daytime talk show at least twice a year during her tenure. She’s taken multiple foreign affairs trips sometimes giving her daughters a taste of diplomacy and world affairs. America was not ready and was caught off guard by her love of country and ability to inspire.
We will miss Michelle Obama in the Whitehouse but we’re even more excited about what’s next. Until then let’s reminisce on some of her inspiring words, speeches and heartfelt moments. Sometimes controversial but always relevant.
#1 February 18, 2008
Michelle Obama gave America a taste of her American experience of a child raised on the Southside of Chicago when she spoke on the campaign trail for her husband speaking in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Michelle Obama said, “People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”
#2 Feb 9, 2010
First lady Michelle Obama took on childhood obesity with the thought to change the younger generations mind set as to how they viewed healthy food and exercise. The successful Let’s Move campaign also launched the Whitehouse fruits and vegetable garden. Before she leaves she’s made a bigger version of the garden, which uses cement, stone and steel to make it a more permanent fixture on the South Lawn. The updates are seen not just as preserving Obama’s garden recognized globally, but also making it slightly difficult for the next administration to uproot.
Underneath, a large paving stone carries an inscription: “WHITE HOUSE KITCHEN GARDEN, established in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama with the hope of growing a healthier nation for our children.”
The White House noted that the new structures incorporate both wood, chosen for “durability,” and steel. The wood includes pine and walnut harvested from the estates of founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.
#3 June 11, 2011
First Lady Michelle Obama visited with former South African President Nelson Mandela about his book during a visit at Mandela’s home in Houghton, South Africa. This time around we did not know what was said but the love in the picture captured a moment that will go down in history.
#4 December 14, 2011
In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling on all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families, supporting them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities.
“It’s a campaign that we hope goes beyond words. It’s a campaign that is about action. It’s about rallying all Americans to give you the honor, the appreciation and the support that you have all earned. And I don’t have to tell you that this hasn’t been a difficult campaign. We haven’t had to do much convincing because American have been lining up to show their appreciation for you and your families in very concrete and meaningful ways.” –Michelle Obama
#5 2014 & 2015
In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched her Reach Higher initiative, an effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.
You cannot be successful hanging around people who drag you down. You have to fill your bucket with positive energy and if you have people hanging around you that are bringing you down and not lifting you up, whether that’s your boo or your best friend, you’ve got to learn how to push those people to the side. And you’re going to be doing that for the rest of your lives.”“There is no boy, at this age, cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting an education. If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the president of the United States.”
– First Lady Michelle Obama Glamour’s The Power of an Educated Girl panel in Harlem, NYC.
In March 2015, the President and the First Lady launched Let Girls Learn, a global initiative which brings together the Department of State, US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as other agencies and programs such as the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to address the range of challenges preventing adolescent girls from attaining a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential around the world.
“I believe that a society’s willingness to truly value women and girls is directly connected to its willingness to invest in them as full people. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, we must recognize that these kinds of gender inequalities aren’t just limited to the developing world.”Remarks by The First Lady at Let Girls Learn Event in Madrid, Spain
#6 May 9, 2016
Remarks by the First Lady at Tuskegee University Commencement Address where the first lady was candid and encouraged the graduates with her own experiences where she touched on the challenges she’s dealt with…
“Back when my husband first started campaigning for President, folks had all sorts of questions of me: What kind of First Lady would I be? What kinds of issues would I take on? Would I be more like Laura Bush, or Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Reagan? And the truth is, those same questions would have been posed to any candidate’s spouse. That’s just the way the process works. But, as potentially the first African American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?
Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover — it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder, just how are people seeing me.
Or you might remember the on-stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a “terrorist fist jab.” And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited “a little bit of uppity-ism. “Another noted that I was one of my husband’s “cronies of color.” Cable news once charmingly referred to me as “Obama’s Baby Mama.”
And of course, Barack has endured his fair share of insults and slights. Even today, there are still folks questioning his citizenship.
And all of this used to really get to me. Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if I might be hurting my husband’s chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom.
But eventually, I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do, and that was to have faith in God’s plan for me. I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself -- and the rest would work itself out.
So throughout this journey, I have learned to block everything out and focus on my truth. I had to answer some basic questions for myself: Who am I? No, really, who am I? What do I care about?
And the answers to those questions have resulted in the woman who stands before you today. A woman who is, first and foremost, a mom. Look, I love our daughters more than anything in the world, more than life itself. And while that may not be the first thing that some folks want to hear from an Ivy-league educated lawyer, it is truly who I am. So for me, being Mom-in-Chief is, and always will be, job number one.”
#7 July 25, 2016
First Lady Michelle Obama gave a personal speech of her pride of country and personal hope at the 2016 DNC and made the now famous phrase “when they go low, we go high”.
“I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just seven and ten years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns. And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, “What have we done?” See, because at that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become, and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them.That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight -- how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel, or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level -– no, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters -- two beautiful, intelligent, black young women –- playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters –- and all our sons and daughters -– now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States. So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again.”
#8 July 20, 2016
First Lady definitely utilized Pop Culture and the arts to help spread her initiative messages. Always deliberate she participated in James Corden famous Carpool Karaoke with Missy Elliot where she sang Stevie Wonder and Beyoncé and rapped with Missy Elliot. An effort to debut “This Is for My Girls” a song for her Let Girls Learn initiative.
#9 October 13, 2016
Michelle Obama stomped hard for Hillary. On this day she gave a passionate speech describing the pain and humiliation women have endured for generations in a speech denouncing Donald Trump, with a trembling voice at times.
“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women, and I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.This is not normal; this is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable, and it doesn’t matter what party you belong to. ... No woman deserves to be treated this way – none of us deserves this kind of abuse. This wasn’t just a lewd conversation;this wasn’t just locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us are worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV.”
#10 January 6, 2017
In Tearful Finale, First Lady Michelle Obama gave her final speech to Honor 2017 School Counselor of the Year and reminded us why we’ll miss her so much as First Lady of the United States of America.
“Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter or like you don’t have a place in our American story, because you do. And you have a right to be exactly who you are. Though with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible, even becoming president. That’s what the American dream is all about. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life. Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I’ve made you proud.”