Former First Lady Michelle Obama inspires women during “Becoming” book tour

Cassia Ramelb

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Every seat was filled and cheers echoed off the walls as former First Lady Michelle Obama entered the stage.

There wasn’t a phone that didn’t record Obama at her “Becoming” book show at the Forum on Nov. 15, the second night of her book tour. “Becoming” is a detailed narrative of Obama’s upbringing, family, tribulations and life as the First Lady.

“I am Michelle Obama,” she said. “My name is spelled ‘W-O-M-A-N.”

Black•ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross opened the show with a kick to interview Obama about her path to become a beloved icon.

Growing up as a young black girl in the 70s in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, Obama quickly discovered her role in life along with the many educational and social problems she faced.

“I knew as a second grader this wasn’t how school should be,” Obama said. “In school, the teacher didn’t think (black students) were worth teaching.”

Obama attended Whitney Young Magnet High School rather than the schools in her neighborhood to take advantage of greater opportunities available.

“We were expected to not (only) be smart, but to own it and have pride,” she said. “Kids need to know what else is out there to know what they want to become.”

In a predominantly white school, Obama had to juggle when to be smart, respectful and bold in who she is. Finding her place in the streets of Chicago and the halls of Whitney Young, Obama faced segregation and socioeconomic struggles.

During the interview, Obama went over strong role models in her life. Before her father died, he and her mother raised Obama to be a strong black woman and had set a responsible example of what parenting should be.

“I’ve always gravitated toward the strong characters,” Obama said. “Parenting isn’t about stuff, it’s about the time put in—that was my father.”  

While raising her two daughters Malia and Sasha, Obama struggled as her husband former President Barack Obama spent long days and nights working. During that time, she had to rediscover the power in who she is.

“What they see in public is the easy part,” she said. “Marriage is hard. I love my husband and he loves me, but it’s still hard.”

In her memoir, Obama explains the hardships and joyous moments that shaped her beliefs, personality and what she stands for.

“As women, we don’t talk about things like miscarriages and menstruations, so we suffer in silence,” Obama said. “The more we talk about these things, I realized it was common.”

“Becoming” can be purchased from $20-$35 online and at bookstores.

“Part of why I knew my book had to be done and done well, is because it’s a rare moment in history that a black woman gets to tell her own story,” she said.

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