Mrs. Obama’s Monday night speech was a moment of triumph for me. Over the last eight years, I’ve watched the First Lady transition from a round-the-way girl from the South Side of Chicago, whose brains and hard work earned her an Ivy League education into a reluctant political spouse and, finally, a polished fashionista and powerful public figure.
In a world where so many glass ceilings exist, Michelle Obama is an example for me that smart women do win. It isn’t just that she’s a wife, a mother, a lawyer and the First Lady of the United States. It is the type of wife, mother, lawyer and First Lady that she has shown herself to be.
As the nation’s first African-American First Lady, she has defied hateful stereotypes of black women as overtly masculine, bossy, emasculating, negligent mothers who are loud, angry and unfit. Her uplifting motto is “When they go low, we go high.”
Her marriage has been a study in egalitarian partnership. She supports her husband, the President, while not being afraid to joke about his being “snore-y or stinky.” As a mother, she has revealed that she considers her most important job to be “Mom-in-Chief,” and while addressing the nation at the DNC, she spoke about the impact of growing up in the White House on her daughters and how she’s come to understand the importance of the Presidency for our nation’s children. During the last eight years, I’ve watched as she’s benched her career as a lawyer to take on that of First Lady. And as First Lady, Michelle has captivated and inspired me.
She’s transformed the White House from an ivory tower fantasy to a special place for all Americans by hosting countless events throughout the last eight years. She created a White House Garden (available for tours), and opened her home to scores of elementary, high school, and college students for book readings, talent shows, and Easter Egg hunts. She has also hosted some of the nation’s most overlooked citizens, including our veterans, foster youth and those with disabilities. All those she welcomes into her home, she embraces with kindness and dignity.
Then there is the fashion. From J. Crew during the height of the recession to the cobalt blue Christian Siriano crepe dress at the DNC. She has shown herself to be a woman in touch with modernity and supportive of American business. In combination with all of her selfless work, Mrs. Obama’s bold, romantic and sometimes striking fashion choices have answered the question of the ages: Can women have it all? For me the answer is yes. Our First Lady has shown that it is possible.
On Monday, she connected the dots for me when she quelled the anger of Bernie Sanders supporters, like myself who were disappointed at DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s behavior throughout the primaries. As a First Lady, Mrs. Obama has gained the trust and following of young people, African Americans, Hispanics, and women. It was these voters she spoke to when she provided a vote of confidence for Hillary Clinton.
She addressed the importance of words and actions in shaping the future of the nation’s children and said Hillary Clinton was the only candidate she trusted with her daughter’s future. It meant something to me when Mrs. Obama praised Hillary’s excellent parenting of daughter Chelsea, and explained the gravity of electing a President with a track record of service, particularly service to children and those with disabilities.
Perhaps most importantly, the First Lady made the case for me, that the next President must be about the work of advancing the legacy of progress started by our Founding Fathers, to prove that “all people are created equal.”
“Don't let anyone tell you that this country isn't great. This right now is the greatest country on earth,” she said when talking about how in America it is possible for the descendent of slaves to become First Lady. Hers is this same quest for liberation that must continue in order for Hillary Clinton to shatter the political glass ceiling and hold the highest office of our Country. That is the only America deserving of our children.
“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," said Mrs. Obama.
These past few weeks have been difficult for the United States. We’ve experienced loss and heartache and death. Sometimes the divisions seem too great to overcome. However, the First Lady’s speech helped remind me of how far we’ve advanced as a country. How much we have to be proud of as Americans. What an incredible eight years. What an incredible First Lady.
Here’s to the next powerful woman in the White House.