Before launching her sold out book tour on Tuesday, former first lady Michelle Obama took some time out of her busy schedule to return to her former high school, Whitney Young on Chicago’s West Side to have a personal meet and greet with the students.
Monday, Obama had an intimate sit down with 20 young women, all seniors, about her new memoir “Becoming.” During the chat she spoke specifically about the section of the narrative where she examines how school exposed her to a world far beyond the South Shore community where she grew up.
The girls, many of whom where young women of color, sat around Obama in a circle as she implored them not to let anyone make assumptions about them based solely on appearance.
Taking on the role of a big sister or favorite auntie during the pep talk, Mrs. O gave them a lot of advice that she learned along the way; encouraging each girl to speak up and always seek to make connections particularly with people who they may assume they have nothing in common with.
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“[If] no one has been around a Black person, how will they learn?” she asks rhetorically.
Using herself as an example, she also shared the value she discovered in always pushing herself “out of my comfort zone.” At one point, the 54-year-old even joked about how she spoon fed this philosophy to her own mother, Marian Robinson, who she has frequently pushed to go on adventures with her during the two terms that their family lived in the White House.
Earlier this month, Obama, who will always hold the distinction as the salutatorian of the Whitney Young class of 1981, surprised another group of students when she popped into their dance class while walking the halls during her Robin Roberts special for ABC’s “20/20.”
The visits to her alma mater this month have most likely felt like “the quiet before the storm,” as the media blitz surrounding the “Becoming” book tour amp up.
Tuesday evening, media mogul, and longtime Obama family friend, Oprah Winfrey come together in Chicago for the first stop of the tour. Although the gathering has been billed as “an intimate conversation with Michelle Obama,” it will take place at the United Center in front of an audience of about 14,000 people.