The legacy of Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. President Obama said her entire name when he thanked her for taking on a role that she hadn’t wanted or bargained for during his farewell address in Chicago.
It’s true, she did not seek the limelight, rather she resisted it. It took her a minute to agree to her husband’s bid for the presidency. Mrs. Obama has said on numerous occasions that she couldn’t be selfish, she knew her spouse was a man of stellar character, a person whose instincts she trusted and believed he was more than qualified to lead the country out of the 2007 quagmire we were in.
Barack Obama was brilliant, but Black America did not warm to him immediately. It was Michelle Obama who helped Black America get behind him. She helped us see the whole picture of who he is, not just a politician, but a loving husband and a great father.
It was also Michelle Obama who inspired little black girls all around the country to embrace who they are. After being FLOTUS for the past eight years, she has shown the entire country how to be our better selves.
These past eight years have not been easy for or on her. She has been mocked about her body image, called an angry black woman, criticized for her health initiatives around healthy eating, childhood obesity and getting people moving. However, she never let those hateful and hurtful comments stop her.
Michelle freely shared the story of her humble beginnings. She always gave homage to the influence her parents had in who she is. Never shying away from standing in her own truth, Michelle’s relatability is what has inspired many of us.
She never forgot where she came from and her commitment to her children was her first and main priority. She understood the need to teach them the importance of service, humility and that they understood with privilege and power came responsibility and accountability.
When she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, she showed the world what a first class, graceful, intelligent and self-aware woman looks like. She reminded everyone of the unlikelihood of her family being the occupants of the people’s house; a place built by former slaves.
She is only the third First Lady with a post-graduate degree, with Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton being the other two. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. For me, the most important quality she possesses is being authentic. Often when she speaks, you can hear the cry that she holds back when she talks about the injustices or pain of others.
Without even trying, Michelle became a fashion icon, wearing everything from J. Crew to Versace. She gave cardigan sweaters new life. She loves shopping at Target. Her position as First Lady never boxed her in. She didn’t let anyone define or create her look.
Mrs. Obama embodies all that is possible in all of us. She exudes strength and femininity and loved getting her hands dirty in her White House garden.
Watching her say goodbye to her staff, it was clear the regard they have for each other. Because of her presence in the White House and the initiatives she championed, we will all be a little kinder, more caring and more intentional.