As Michelle Obama continues her sold-out national book tour, the former First Lady made a surprise stop on Tuesday at the famed Motown Museum in Detroit to meet a group of male college students, and theGrio was there to document the event.
The visit came ahead of Obama’s scheduled appearance tonight at Little Caesars Arena to promote her best-selling memoir “Becoming.” Motown Records is among the sponsors of the tour.
Cheers and applause erupted when Obama casually strode into the room, generating smiles amongst those in attendance. She joined a roundtable discussion with 17 young men of color, mostly Black, who are students at nearby Wayne State University. Obama was also joined by her brother, Craig Robinson, and actor/comedian Keegan-Michael Key, a Detroit native who has done work with the Obama-led civic initiative “When We All Vote.”
The young men —many of whom are first generation college students—were seated in a circle with Obama and company for a rap session. Topics focused on motivating the students academically and giving them career and life strategies to achieve success.
The talk was candid: one student shared that people sometimes question whether he deserves to be in college, inferring he was there courtesy of diversity initiative or quota.
“There are all kinds of affirmative action,” said Obama, an attorney who earned degrees from both Princeton undergrad and Harvard Law school. She met her future husband, Barack Obama while mentoring him at a Chicago law firm.
“There were people who questioned whether Barack could be president. People who questioned if I could be a good First Lady. You have to practice knowing who you are and just doing the work day by day.”
Several of the young men opened up about the pressure and discomfort they sometimes feel in college and overall. Key urged the students to reject stereotypes that don’t allow men to reveal their feelings. “That emotional component is essential for us to be full human beings.”
Robinson, a husband, father and fellow Princeton alum, who graduated before his now famous sister, shared in that understanding. The engineer turned professional NBA coach remembered calling home from college in tears, feeling he was inadequately prepared.
“I had a C, two Ds and an F,” he revealed. His father assured him he was up to the task. “As long as you’re trying, you will not fail,” Robinson told the young men.
Obama urged the students not to shy away from tough situations, but instead to allow themselves moments of “discomfort.”
“Push through it and realize in the end it’s not gonna kill you but help you grow. Say ‘I am growing and getting better.’”
Detroit, get ready!
Attendees at the event tonight will hear even more honest reflections about her most personal experiences from childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work.
Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States – the first Black woman to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for all women and girls in the U.S. and around the world.
“I couldn’t be more excited to visit even more cities across the country and around the world,” Mrs. Obama said. “I’ve been so humbled by the response to the tour thus far and the overwhelming interest we’ve received from so many communities we weren’t able to visit this year. That’s why I’m thrilled that we’re able to expand our conversations to these new settings and wider audiences. I can’t wait to continue the discussions that have been so meaningful for me and, I hope, for so many others.”
She’s got more to say
After a wildly successful national tour in arenas across 10 cities (some of them twice to sold out crowds) Live Nation and Crown Publishing (part of Penguin Random House) announced today that additional dates and cities have been added to the tour.
The “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama” tour extension will include 21 events in 2019 across North America and Europe, including 11 additional events in the U.S., four in Canada, and six in Europe. The 2019 events will kick off on February 8 in Tacoma, WA, and will make stops in previously un-visited cities, including Austin, Toronto, Atlanta, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and more.
The European dates will include an event in Paris, rescheduled from the original December 5, 2018, date which was delayed due to Obama’s trip back to the U.S. to attend the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush. The 2019 events will also see Mrs. Obama visiting a range of venues, from arenas to more intimate theaters. Each stop will feature moderators—Oprah Winfrey, Valerie Jarrett and Tracee Ellis Ross have been among some of the past moderators to chat candidly with Obama thus far. At one recent event in Washington D.C., the surprise guest was none other than her husband, former President Obama.
Live Nation and European ticket agencies are implementing various methods to limit ticket scalpers on the Becoming book tour. The aim is to ensure tickets are put into the hands of real fans, and not resold on secondary websites.
The North American events will utilize Ticketmaster’s Verified FanÒ platform. Fans can register now through Wednesday, December 12, at 10 p.m. PST HERE for the Verified Fan presale. Registered fans who receive a code will have access to purchase tickets for the North American events before the general public, which will go on sale beginning Saturday, December 15, at 10 a.m. local time at BecomingMichelleObama.com. A limited number of VIP meet and greet packages with the former First Lady will also be available.
In keeping with her commitment to make her events accessible to as many people as possible, Mrs. Obama and Live Nation will donate a portion of ticket inventory in each market to various organizations, including charities, schools, and community groups. Those fans will receive free admission to the tour stop in their city.