Moments before Michelle Obama entered Giles Hall at Spelman College in Atlanta, students who attend the prominent HBCU for women and their male counterparts from nearby Morehouse College discussed how their lives were inspired by her memoir, Becoming.
Obama snuck into the room shortly after 1 p.m. and surprised the students, who were given the opportunity to greet and receive guidance from one of the most powerful persons of this generation. For the past semester, a select group of students from Spelman and Morehouse had studied her memoir as a foundational text of their political science class, Black Women: Developing Public Leadership Skills.
Obama displayed the elegance that became her signature during her tenure as the first lady of the United States.
During the intimate discussion, Obama spoke about her book, which details her life, starting with her humble beginnings on Chicago’s South Side, to serving as the first Black first lady in U.S. history.
“If you still believe here today as students at Morehouse and Spelman that you are not good enough, it’s not about something that’s happened to you today,” Obama told the students. “It’s probably a part of what you’ve heard and seen consistently throughout your life. And that’s your story that you have to own and have to understand. That’s what this book is about.
“You’ve got to be able to go over the moments in your life that brought you to a moment of joy and happiness or broke you down and be able to understand how has that made you who you are today and what are you going to do to recalibrate.”
In Becoming, Obama also shared how love and faith undergirded her marriage to former President Barack Obama. Some have even argued that she was the person who inspired the nation’s first Black president to reach his greatest potential.
Michelle served as one of Barack’s first mentors. When he walked into the offices of Sidley & Austin in the summer of 1989, it was she who guided him and made his transition smooth. She became one of his top assets during his initial run for president by giving powerful speeches that inspired men and women.
As first lady, she implemented plans to create a healthier nation. She was also a beloved figure who garnered respect across political lines. Along with her work in the United States, she also took on the role of raising a family while her husband held the most powerful seat in the nation.
“I’m so excited, and I really appreciate her for coming to Spelman,” senior Zoe Holloway told rolling out. “The book is all about women’s empowerment. I really like that she was able to show a side of herself that we don’t get a chance to see often.”