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
Over the past month Michelle has been making stops in various cities in the next leg of her Intimate Conversations tour. Check out some of the images which have been added to our gallery.
– Michelle Obama Online > 2019 > February 12 | Intimate Conversations – Phoenix
– Michelle Obama Online > 2019 > February 28 | Intimate Conversations – Austin
– Michelle Obama Online > 2019 > March 14 | Intimate Conversations – Milwaukee
– Michelle Obama Online > 2019 > March 24 | Intimate Conversations – Tacoma
Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming continues to smash records.
When the book was released in November of last year, it sold 725,000 copies on its first day and 2 million copies in North America within two weeks, quickly becoming the best-selling book of 2018. It also broke the record of best first-week sales at Barnes & Noble and went on to become a number one seller abroad, including in the U.K. and Germany.
Now it looks like Becoming is on track to become one of the best-selling memoirs—ever. Publisher Penguin Random House announced Tuesday that the book has sold close to 10 million copies to date, across print, digital, and audiobooks globally.
“I’m not aware, in my personal experience with Penguin Random House, that we ever sold 10 million units of a memoir,” Markus Dohle, Penguin Random House’s chief executive told The Wall Street Journal. “We believe this could be the most successful memoir in history,” added Bertelsmann Chief Executive Thomas Rabe. Bertelsmann owns a 75% stake in Penguin Random House.
Becoming is the first in a two-book deal between the Obamas and Penguin Random House. The publishing house reportedly paid $60 million for the deal in 2017, a record for U.S. presidential memoirs. Former President Barack Obama’s memoir is expected to be released later this year, but a formal date has not yet been set.
Michelle Obama is opening up about her family’s time in the White House.
The former First Lady of the United States reflects on husband Barack Obama’s presidency in a candid new interview on Conan O’Brien’s podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. On the latest episode, the Becoming author shares how “in awe” she is of her daughters, Malia Obama, 20, and Sasha Obama, 17.
“We had to parent by creating this cocoon of normalcy in a pretty crazy, abnormal world,” Obama tells O’Brien. “We spent eight years just going, ‘It’s OK! You’ll be fine, this is normal, just go to school. You have men with guns…hey, you know, you’re safe, don’t complain! You have food, so don’t complain to me.'”
“It was very much, keeping them in their reality,” she continues. “Making sure we went to the parent teacher conferences, and that we went to the games and that we were sitting on the sidelines with them.”
Obama adds that it was important that Sasha and Malia had sleepovers with their friends, just like the rest of their peers.
“We had kids sleeping over at our house,” Obama tells O’Brien, adding that her kids thought “no one wants to come” to the White House.
“I was like, ‘You are wrong, my friend,'” she recalls. “But their view was, ‘I don’t want to be here, I’m here all the time. I want to go to X’s house.'”
Obama says she found this as a “healthy” sign.
“I am in awe of my children for the way they have managed this whole thing with poise and grace,” she shares. “There’s a resilience that they’ve had to develop.”
“They’ve also had to sacrifice a lot of their childhoods, living in this glare and being the subject of some of this nastiness themselves and learning, at a very young age, how do you recover from that,” Obama explains. “They were the ones going out into the world every day, trying to be regular little girls.”
You can listen to the complete interview with Obama and O’Brien above!
I have added some new images to the gallery from the events that Michelle attended in 2017, including the President’s Farewell Address to the people of Chicago and President Trump’s Inauguration Ceremony.
– Michelle Obama Online > Events & Appearances > 2017
Here are the beautiful images of Michelle and her beautiful goddess sisters opening the Grammy’s last night! Michelle wore a beautiful Sachin & Babi olive sequined pant suit.
Wasn’t this a pleasant surprise!?!?!
For me, a big part of friendship is showing up for your girls—whether that’s for a birthday, a quick catch-up after work, or a major milestone. So I was thrilled to be there for the one and only Alicia Keys at the #GRAMMYs. She is one of the most genuine, caring, and thoughtful people I know—there’s no one better to help us all celebrate the unifying power of music! – MO
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 17, 2019