Thank you, Michelle Obama

The First and Foremost Lady

I don’t have one specific moment when I realized how incredible Michelle Obama is as a leader, role model, and First Lady. But now that her time in the White House is coming to an end, I look back at the past eight years— especially now after the 2016 election — and am amazed by Michelle Obama.

I’ve always had immense respect for the First Lady, whenever I saw her as the guest on my favorite late night shows, cameos on shows, or heard her powerful speeches. She was smart, charismatic, effortless style, and you knew if you ever talked to her, she would give you her full attention. I talk a lot about representation and how important it is to see yourself in the media, government, and community. In Michelle Obama, women, especially black women, had one of the strongest inspirations and role models in the world. She’s such a warm, brilliant, woman, mother, and leader.

One of my favorite things Michelle Obama has done is the United State of Women movement. A summit for women leaders and speakers, dozens of women and men (including the president and vice president) went to D.C. to speak at the two day event. They focused on six different topics: economic empowerment, women’s health and reproductive justice, access to education, supporting survivors of gender-based violence, human rights, and civic engagement, leadership, and community organizing. Most of the speeches are available on the website, along with more informaton on how to keep the #StateofWomen movement going.

By far my favorite thing to come out of the United State of Women summit was their film. I’ve shared this thing on all my social media, put it at the end of my rant against Trump, and shared it on my About page for this blog. The first time I saw this video, my jaw dropped because I was so damn inspired. I don’t even care if some people think it’s a cheesy PSA, sometimes this gets me out of bed in the morning. It certainly reminds me why I started a feminist blog.

In the last few months of the Obama administration, a number of different articles, open letters, think pieces, and a few books have come out looking back on their legacy. Most focus on the President’s, but Michelle’s impact has not been ignored. The writers of these essays say what Michelle Obama has meant to us better than I can, and really put into words the awe I feel when I think of the First Lady:

From the official Medium account of the First Lady
(Pro tip: Some of these make awesome desktop backgrounds.)

A series of open letters from the New York Times:

“She reached across borders and cast her light on the education of girls all over the world. She danced on television shows. She hugged more people than any first lady ever has, and she made “first lady” mean a person warmly accessible, a person both normal and inspirational and a person many degrees of cool.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Though I’m old enough to remember Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House — and all the couples and families since — I have never seen such balance and equal parenting, such love, respect, mutuality and pleasure in each other’s company. We will never have a democracy until we have democratic families and a society without the invented categories of both race and gender. Michelle Obama may have changed history in the most powerful way — by example.” Gloria Steinem
“Michelle Obama will have her own legacy, separate from her husband’s. And it will be that she was the first first lady to show women that they don’t have to choose. That it’s okay to be everything.” Rashida Jones

From President Barack Obama’s farewell address:

Michelle — (applause) — Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side — (applause) — for the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. (Applause.) You took on a role you didn’t ask for and you made it your own, with grace and with grit and with style and good humor. (Applause.) You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. (Applause.) And the new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. (Applause.) So you have made me proud. And you have made the country proud. (Applause.)

There’s so much more to be said about the First Lady, but all I really want to say is — thank you, Michelle Obama.

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