Watch the entire interview from Essence Festival:
CNN has given us some of the highlights from the interview:
On marriage: “Marriage is all nice and cute but then kids show up and they take up all the oxygen in the land,” she said. “That’s why they make the babies cute because you would leave them at the Post Office.”
She later added: “My husband is my teammate and if we are going to win this game together, he has to be strong and he has to be OK with me being strong.”
On the role men played in her life: “My father and my brother had the greatest impact on my self-esteem because I grew up in a household with men who loved me and respected me very early on, who told me how beautiful I was, who treated me as an equal,” she said. “So even at an early age because I had a father and a brother and the men in my life who didn’t hurt me, who took care of me, the bar for what I expected for myself was set by the men in my life.”
On the extra difficulties for Sasha and Malia: “Imagine having Malia and Sasha come to your house for a sleepover. This is the call: It’s like, ‘Hello. OK, we’re going to need your Social Security number, we’re going to need your date of birth. There are going to be men coming to sweep your house, if you have guns and drugs, just tell them yes because they are going to find them anyway. Don’t lie, they’re not going to take them, they just need to know where they are. And, uh, thank you for having Malia and Sasha over. Oh and by the way, there is going to be a man with a gun sitting outside all night,” she said. “If you let him use the bathroom, that would be nice.'”
On being an empty-nester: “This is the beauty of finding a partner you really love and respect — because after all the highs and lows, the ups and downs we’ve been through, we have each other, which makes the journey worth it,” she said, adding that her and Barack Obama are “rediscovering each other” now.
On campaigning alongside her husband: “For a minute there, I was an angry black woman who was emasculating her husband. As I got more popular, that’s when people of all sides — Democrats and Republicans — tried to take me out by the knees and the best way to do it was to focus on the one thing people were afraid of: the strength of a black woman,” she said.
On defining her role: “I would have to earn my grace and I knew I would have to quickly define myself and I want all young girls out there to know — we all struggle with that, people of color, working class folks, women of color — people try to define us in a negative way before we get a chance to get out there and tell our own stories.”
On the night before: “The truth is, on that day I was moving my children out of the only house they had really grown up in,” she said. “I think that gets lost on people.”
On the emotional morning: “So anyway, the girls didn’t get up, I’m like get up and get out of here, and they’re all crying and they have their teddy bears and they’re moving slow and I’m like, you’ve got to get up and get out of this house. And I don’t know where these kids are going, but they had to get up and out of that house. So you’ve got tears and I’m pushing people out of freight elevators and my kids are crying — I don’t know where they going — all of that was happening and the staff was crying.”
On the crowd: “So look around of a crowd that was not reflective of the country and I had to sit in that audience, one of a handful of people of color, all that I had sort of held on to for eight years watching my husband get raked over the coals feeling like we had to do everything perfectly so that by the time I got on that plane it was a release of eight years of having to show up as we all know we have to do not only perfectly,” she said, “but a little bit better than perfect to even be considered equal.”
CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE
On ‘going high: ‘ “It has to be true — you know, look, that’s the one thing people ask me about, in this climate, how do you find it in yourself to go high and here’s the thing, going high is a long-term strategy — because the truth is, going high is about thinking about trying to really get to the real answer, because a lot of time the low answer is our immediate instinct. It’s just, I’m mad, I want to punch you in the face, but it doesn’t solve anything.”
On her guiding principles: “And if we’re thinking about what the agenda is, which is getting to a place where we all live in a country where we’re proud to pass on to our kids, going high is the only way we get there. It’s our patience, our tolerance, it’s our belief in honesty and truth, it’s our belief in hard work,” she said. “It’s not about getting somebody back, it’s not about the immediate clapback. The immediate clapback is just for your own selfish purpose right there in the moment and rarely does it solve anything.”
2020 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
On where the race is now: “I mean that’s one of the things that we learned in the campaign. It is early,” she said. “It’s like trying to figure out who is going to win the World Series on the first seven games, I mean that’s where we are right now. It is so early and things will change.”
On not endorsing a candidate in the primary: “The general election is so important that we have to get behind whoever comes out of that primary, so we’re watching everyone, we’re supporting everyone, we’re giving advice to whoever seeks it,” she said.
On the Biden-Harris spat over race and busing: “I’ve been doing this rodeo far too long,” she said to a laughing crowd. “It’s like — no comments.”
This weekend Michelle was in New Orleans where she participated in the Essence Festival. She was interviewed by CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King.
Go Team USA! I have added pics to our gallery from the Dodgeball game that Michelle participated in at the Late Late Show with James Corden.
USA vs UK! It is on!
Since moving to the United States for The Late Late Show, James Corden has been searching for a way to determine which is better: the UK or the US. So James enlists Michelle Obama to put together a group of American all-stars, including Kate Hudson, Mila Kunis, Melissa McCarthy, Lena Waithe and Allison Janney, to take on a group of formidable UK foes. Can James, Reggie Watts, Harry Styles, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Bradley earn honor for Great Britain?
Broadway World shares that the GRAMMY Museum is going to display Michelle’s outfit from the opening of this year’s GRAMMY Awards.
GRAMMY Museum® adds Michelle Obama’s 61st GRAMMY Awards® Sachin & Babi outfit to its On The Red Carpet collection.
Michelle Obama has a history of supporting the GRAMMY Museum and its education initiatives. In 2014, Mrs. Obama was the keynote speaker at the Museum’s Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon.
Former first lady Michelle Obama surprised both at-home and live audiences when she appeared onstage at the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards alongside host Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Jada Pinkett Smith on Feb. 10. Together, they opened the show and spoke about the power of music.
The GRAMMY Museum will include the Sachin & Babi outfit worn during her appearance as part of its On The Red Carpet collection in the Museum.
“As I said onstage at the GRAMMYs, music helps us find our voices. Whether it’s the power of a rap verse, the croon of a country song, the crescendo of a concerto, or the muscle of a rock anthem, music helps us hear each other, to share ourselves with one another. That’s why, as First Lady, I was so proud to partner with the GRAMMY Museum to bring young people to the White House for workshops with some of music’s biggest stars. It’s why I was thrilled to join my friend Alicia Keys and such a strong group of women onstage back in February. And it’s why I’m thrilled to display my outfit from that night-to celebrate the unifying, uplifting power of music,” said Michelle Obama.
“It was a dream come true and an honor to have the opportunity to dress Michelle Obama,” said designers Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia. “She wore a custom deep loden green sequin top and pants that truly represents our brand as we are known for color, texture and occasion dressing. We were thrilled to see our muse Michelle wear it to the Grammys beside such empowering women. We are honored to have this look housed at the Grammy Museum.”
Thank you to People for the exciting news! Michele is making a special appearance in New Orleans this summer!
The 25th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival of Culture kicks off July 4 in New Orleans
It’s festival season, and everyone’s favorite former first lady is officially participating!
ESSENCE announced Thursday that Michelle Obama will headline their 25th Anniversary Festival of Culture in New Orleans July 4-7. The 55-year-old is set to discuss her record-setting memoir, finding a new focus and her plans for the future during a sit-down interview on July 6, ESSENCE (a media company dedicated to black women) said in a statement.
ESSENCE Festival is a celebration of global black culture that attracts more than 500,000 people each weekend. The View’s Loni Love will host this year’s event, making her the first female ever to do so.
“We are indescribably thrilled and honored to have ‘Forever First Lady’ Michelle Obama as a part of our 25th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival, which will mark our most exciting and extensive programming to date,” Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence Communications, said.
RELATED: Michelle Obama: It’s Up to Us as Mothers to Give Girls the Support That Keeps Their Flame Lit
Becoming, which was released in November 2018, is a candid account of Mrs. Obama’s childhood in Chicago, her marriage to former president Barack Obama, becoming a mother to daughters Sasha and Malia and life in the White House. As of March 26, the memoir had sold a staggering 10 million copies worldwide.
“We believe this could be the most successful memoir in history,” Thomas Rabe, head of one of Penguin Random House’s parent companies, said in March according to the Wall Street Journal.
The memoir also set records by selling two million copies in its first 15 days in stores and topping the best-seller list in countries like Germany, and Greece, according to the Washington Post. After its release, Mrs. Obama embarked on a sold-out tour to promote Becoming at venues across the country.
“As inspiring and aspirational as it is relatable, Mrs. Obama’s story — told on her own terms — is a remarkable example and celebration of everyday Black women who accomplish extraordinary things, who confront challenges with courage and truth, and who remind us that all things are possible when we support one another,” Ebanks said. “Over 25 years, the Festival has done just that — becoming a cultural home for millions of Black women to honor, celebrate and engage each other in service and sisterhood, laughter and love, and empowerment and community.”
Mrs. Obama will join an exciting line-up of more than 80 performers — including hip-hop legends Mary J. Blige, Nas and Missy Elliott, and rising talents H.E.R and Teyana Taylor — for this year’s festival, which is “a celebration of 1994’s most culturally impactful and transformative albums that redefined pop culture will also be curated and performed by the original artists,” according to ESSENCE.
Festival-goers can expect to hear chart-topping favorites from albums like Mary J. Blige’s My Life, Nas’ Illmatic, Brandy’s Brandy and many more.
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I could not be more honored to help celebrate 50 years of @SesameStreet tonight. It’s a program that’s been a part of my life as a child, as a mother, as First Lady—and thankfully, still today. I’ll never forget the first time my daughters came to Sesame Street with me back in 2010. As Malia, Sasha, and I walked onto that street with the brownstone, the grocery store, and the famous trash can, we were totally overwhelmed, in awe, our faces filled with wonder, and our spirits soaring. But it wasn’t just us—my staff was mesmerized. Even the Secret Service agents had big goofy grins on. There is something unexplainable that happens there, some unique alchemy that bubbles up that you just can’t find anywhere else. There’s nothing in the world that so beautifully marries boundless aspiration with simple goodness, nothing that strips away the daily madness and distraction, nothing that is so pure and hopeful—and absolutely essential to our future. Congrats on 50 great years—here’s to 50 more. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating by sharing a favorite memory or lesson learned using #Sesame50.
Michelle Obama knows dedication when she sees it.
Sure, it’s shown on t-shirts worn by her supporters, donning phrases like “when they go low, we go high” and “it’s harder to hate up close.” It’s seen as feet tap and heads bop before the show, onlookers full of anticipation and encouraged by a Stevie Wonder hook.
And it’s certainly displayed when a roaring ovation welcomes her into the room.
But, spending her Sunday night in conversation at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Obama understands her crowd made a different sacrifice to be at the Mother Church.
“Do you see how much these people love you?” moderator and CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert quipped. “They’re missing ‘Game of Thrones’ to be here tonight.”
Yes, it takes a former first lady to peel some away from the penultimate episode of an HBO epic.
“Believe me, I have a daughter, my youngest, Sasha, who’s a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan … they surprised me and they came here, my two girls,” Obama said. “And Sasha said, ‘You know I love you because I’m missing ‘Game of Thrones,’ so, yes. I understand the sacrifice.”
Obama appeared in Music City to support of her 2018 memoir, “Becoming.” The conversation between the south side Chicago native and Colbert wrapped a 34-date world tour supporting the book, a run that brought the wife of former President Barack Obama to arenas in London, Stockholm, Amsterdam and across the United States.
A sold-out engagement, Obama’s night at the Ryman proved the most intimate venue on an evening billed globally as an “intimate conversation” about the book that’s sold an estimated 10 million copies since being released last November.
Discussing “Becoming” for 80 minutes, the conversation traveled from Mother’s Day to her final minutes inside the White House to what could be next for the Obama family.
Colbert opened the night with a jokingly “hardball” question about Mother’s Day in the Obama house (it’s a “low-key” day, Obama said) before turning to Obama’s relationship with her mother, Marian Robinson and two daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.
Obama credited her mother for raising her and her brother, Craig Robinson, as individuals; she didn’t stifle her “feisty” daughter — a trait Obama said she embraced in raising her daughters.
“She wanted to hear our voices; she wanted to hear our ideas,” Obama said. “She allowed us to ask questions. There was never anything that was off limits. She fed our curiously — she rewarded it.”
And Obama said she wanted to be level-headed when raising daughters in the White House, pushing staff to not do children’s chores.
“I had to beg the housekeepers … these girls have to learn how to clean their own rooms and make their beds and do their laundry,” Obama said. “Because they will not live here forever and I am not raising kids that don’t know how to make a bed.”
Leaving the White House
Obama outlined her final hours at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as a teary, chaotic mess, due mostly to her daughters insisting on hosting one more sleepover before the family moved.
“All the transition happens in the matter of a day,” Obama said. “ … so that last day’s busy. But, of course, when you have kids, what do they want? A sleepover. You realize all their friends had grown up there, too.”
The kids woke up “a little too slow,” Obama said, leading her to rush the group down an elevator before President Trump’s arrival.
“Everybody’s crying because it’s the last day and it’s emotional,” Obama said. “We’re saying goodbye and people are crying and the staff’s crying and I’m thinking I gotta get myself together because if I walk out that door in tears they’re going to think I’m crying because of the Trumps.”
The conversation drifted slightly into political lanes, with Obama describing advice to potential presidential spouses (“When power’s involved, nothing’s off limits, sadly, and you have to prepare yourself for that,” she said) and her frustration with pundits.
“In the first videos, where you see me coming to the ‘Colbert Show,’ going on ‘Ellen,’ going on ‘Sesame Street,’(it’s) because I realized no one’s listening to [the pundits], so let me not listen to them. Let me go where people actually are,” she said.
In “Becoming,” Obama criticizes President Trump for promoting a “birther” conspiracy that questioned President Obama’s citizenship. She described Trump’s “birther” campaign against her husband as containing “loud and reckless innuendo” as well as being “crazy and mean spirited.”
Colbert asked: “What made you decide to weigh in when so many other first ladies have declined?”
Trump’s accusations put her family at risk, Obama replied. She felt an obligation to express the fear his accusations cause.
“The point is that words matter,” she said. “It was important for me to say that to everybody in the country as we think about our political candidates — this isn’t a game.”
She continued: “I just wanted to tell some people this isn’t a joke and when you make stuff up and you know you’re making stuff up … it can cost my children their life. It can cost them their father. We as a country have to understand (that) these are people.”
“You are still young” Colbert said, “what do you see yourself becoming next?”
Chants of “president” cut through the room.
“If you read the book you will know why I will never be president,” she replied.
Instead, Obama said she plans to invest in the “next generation,” mentoring young political hopefuls.
“We don’t want to keep sitting in the seats of leadership,” she said. “We want to make room for the next.”
Michelle showed up at UCLA to support College Signing Day! Los Angeles Times highlighted the event!
Former First Lady Michelle Obama, who was told by her high school counselor that she wasn’t Ivy League material but went on to Princeton and Harvard anyway, urged thousands of students to follow her lead on Wednesday during a high-energy appearance at UCLA.
It marked the first time that Obama chose to celebrate College Signing Day on the West Coast. She started the event in 2014 to encourage teenagers to pursue higher education, career training or military service after high school. A major focus is on students who are low-income and the first in their families to attend college.
The roar and cheers were deafening as she stepped onstage at Pauley Pavilion.
“Helloooo, Los Angeles!” Obama said after being introduced by late-night TV host Conan O’Brien. “We are here today for all of you. I want you all to know you personally are about to make the best investment that you can possibly make.”
Wearing a Compton College T-shirt to point out the importance of community colleges, she congratulated the 10,000 students in attendance for overcoming myriad hurdles. She warned that other people would try to bring them down, as her high school counselor had tried to do.
“In those times — because they will come up — you have to ask yourselves whether you’re gonna believe the haters or whether you’re gonna believe the own truth of your story,” she said. Bouncing back from failure, she added, is the mark of a true champion.
“You do not do this alone,” Obama said.
Participation in Obama’s annual May 1 College Signing Day has grown from a few dozen schools to more than 3,000 campuses in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, said Eric Waldo, executive director of Reach Higher. Last year, the event inspired 1.24 billion social media posts tagged #collegesigningday in just 24 hours.
The University of California — where 4 in 10 undergraduates are first-generation college students — contacted Reach Higher, Obama’s nonprofit, about a year ago to host the event, Waldo said. All nine undergraduate campuses celebrated, the first systemwide effort to do so, said Carolyn McMillan, UC editorial director. Campuses invited about 6,000 high school and community college students to visit, and hosted rallies, hip-hop performances, inspirational speakers, college resource fairs and free swag.
Reach Higher selected UCLA for the main event, in part, because the campus is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Waldo said. On Wednesday, nearly 50 celebrities took the stage to talk up college, including John Legend, Usher, Pentatonix and Bebe Rexha. LaLa Anthony and Lil Rel Howery served as emcees.
Students, wearing T-shirts lettered with their colleges of choice, mugged for pictures against a College Signing Day backdrop. One friend group held up signs of their future colleges: Harvard, Duke, Dartmouth, University of Chicago and UC Berkeley. UCLA volunteers — and Bruins mascots Joe and Josie — handed out UC banners and goodie bags stuffed with water bottles, T-shirts and snacks.
Some students traveled for hours to get there.
Victoria Soldana Sanchez came to UCLA from the Central Valley with about 60 other seniors from Dinuba High School. She will attend UC Davis, where she hopes to major in biology and possibly become an ophthalmologist or optometrist — an interest sparked by her own astigmatism and vision problems. She said her greatest inspiration has been her mother, an agricultural worker who picks seasonal crops — grapes, oranges, strawberries — although she went to secretarial school in her native Mexico.
Kayla Perez, an El Rancho High School senior who plans to attend UCLA, managed to earn a 4.2 GPA while working three jobs, serving as captain of her school’s Academic Decathlon team and being editor of her school newspaper. She said seeing Obama affirmed her own journey from high school to college.
“I feel as if all the hard work that I put toward my academics and activities is finally paying off,” Perez said.
Rising tuition and student debt loads have prompted some students to wonder whether college is worth it. But three-quarters of all jobs in the 21st century will require education or training beyond high school, according to Reach Higher.
And research has shown that college graduates earn more — as much as $1 million more over a lifetime — vote more and contribute more to charity than their less-educated peers, said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA vice chancellor of enrollment management.
“A college education is not only a benefit to the individual, it’s also a benefit to society,” she said.
In her best-selling memoir, “Becoming,” Obama shared her own educational journey growing up in the south side of Chicago. Ambitious and bright from childhood, she skipped second grade. She tested into Chicago’s first magnet high school, Whitney Young, and woke up at 5 a.m. for a 90-minute commute on two city buses to get there in time. She got good grades, loved writing, built confidence and graduated in the top 10% of her class.
When her high school counselor told her she wasn’t right for Princeton, Obama fumed and then vowed: I’ll show you.
But attending the Ivy League university with mostly white men, many of them well-off, was startling, she wrote. She and other minorities became aware of their disadvantages for the first time — no SAT tutoring, for instance, or college-caliber teaching in high school. She had never seen a syllabus and suffered from impostor syndrome.
Ultimately, though, Obama held her own, graduated cum laude in sociology and went on to Harvard Law School.
Obama’s passion for education and personal understanding of the barriers faced in many underserved communities prompted her to launch Reach Higher to inspire all students to pursue education or career training beyond high school.
“She’s the school counselor in chief,” Waldo said.
On Wednesday, five students headed for universities, community colleges and the military joined Obama onstage and shared their dreams with the crowd — to save lives as a paramedic, to protect the country as a U.S. Marine, to inform and empower communities as a journalist, to help underserved students as an educator.
Sage Bennett, a senior at Antioch High School, jumped to his feet, let out a whoop and teared up when Obama appeared. Bennett, who is African American and gay, survived poverty, homelessness and bullying to excel in school with a 4.1 GPA. He will attend UC Berkeley this fall, receiving a full ride as a Berkeley Regents’ Scholar.
“Michelle Obama has been the person who showed me I can do this — that no matter where you come from, you can always alter where you’re going,” he said.
Time has named Michelle as one of their Time 100 Icons for 2019.
By Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Loving Michelle Obama wasn’t much of a choice. It was something that came naturally, because of how she carried herself. Because she resembled us and was moving in spaces where, as black Americans, we weren’t exactly meant to be, she seemed so powerful.
When I first met her, I was embraced by a warm, regal, confident woman who possessed a reassuring calm, on the eve of President Obama’s historic first Inauguration.
The way she looked, walked and spoke, in that warm but authoritative tone, we saw our mothers and sisters. She was strong and ambitious and spoke her mind without sacrificing honesty or empathy. That takes a lot of courage and discipline.
She would’ve been impactful simply by being in the White House, the first African-American First Lady. But she also used her position of power to improve the world around her. Her initiative Reach Higher, for example, encourages young people to complete their education past high school. She empowers all of us to interrogate our fears and surpass greatness.
I’m honored to know such a brilliant black woman who’s spoken about the sacrifice it takes to balance her passions while remaining a supportive partner and mother, and now a best-selling author with Becoming. She has continued to open herself up, even if it meant being criticized. She has continued to be a portrait of grace.
I am so grateful that my daughters and my son live in a world where Michelle Obama shines as a beacon of hope who inspires all of us to do better and to be better.
Knowles-Carter is a Grammy-winning musician