Photo: A.R. Shaw

Moments before President Barack Obama walked on stage to give his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, the crowd roared once Michelle Obama entered the conference center with daughter Malia in tow. Dressed in Navy blue, Michelle Obama displayed the elegance that was a signature during her tenure as First Lady of the United States.

Without Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama would never have been a possibility. Sure, Barack Obama could have achieved success with any spouse, but it was Michelle who inspired him to reach his greatest potential.

Michelle Obama served as one of Barack’s first mentors. When he walked into the offices of Sidley & Austin in the summer of 1989, it was Michelle who guided Barack and made his transition smooth. Michelle became one of his top assets during his initial run for president by giving powerful speeches that inspired men and women. As first lady, Michelle implemented plans to create a healthier nation. She was also a beloved figure who garnered respect across political lines. Along with her work with America, Michelle also took on the role of raising a family while her husband held the most powerful seat in the nation.

While giving his final speech as president, Barack Obama shed a tear when he mentioned Michelle’s impact on his life. Her love, motivation, and intellect allowed him to be elected to the highest position in the land and make history as America’s first Black President.

“Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side for the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend,” President Obama said. “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.  You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And the new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. So you have made me proud.  And you have made the country proud.”

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.