The ethereal Michelle Obama gave the commencement speech at Tuskegee University this Saturday May 9, and it was easily her most moving and audacious speeches yet. The First Lady addressed the graduating class at the historically Black university on the frequent racial stereotypes she’s faced, being marginalized and overlooked and how she dealt with it all these past seven years while being one of the most watched women on the planet. Obama also made a point to timely address the unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore.
We pulled the 10 most badass statements from the First Lady’s commencement speech! Take a note and bow down!
1. “As potentially the first African-American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?”
2. “I wasn’t always this fully formed First Lady that you see before you today. No, I had my fair share of bumps along the way.”
3. “There will be times when you feel like folk look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are. The world won’t always see you in those caps and gowns. They won’t know how hard you worked and how much you sacrificed to make it to this day…Instead, they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world.”
4. “There was the first time I was on a magazine cover [July 2008 cover of The New Yorker]—it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder just how are people seeing me.”
5. “Over the years, folks have used interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited ‘a little bit of uppity-ism.’ Another noted that I was one of my husband’s ‘cronies of color.’ Cable news once charmingly referred to me as ‘Obama’s Baby Mama.’ All of this used to really get to me…But eventually, I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do, and that was to have faith in God’s plan for me. I had to ignore all the noise and be true to myself and the rest would work itself out.”
6. “To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose.”
7. “The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me.”
8. “While we’ve come so far, the truth is, that those age-old problems [referring to Ferguson and Freddie Gray] are stubborn and they haven’t fully gone away.”
9. “I love our daughters more than anything in the world. More than life itself. And while that may not be the first thing that some folks want to hear from an Ivy League educated lawyer, it is truly who I am. So for me, being Mom-In-Chief, it is and always will be job number one.”
10. “At the end of day, by staying true to the me that I’ve always known, I found that this journey [of being First Lady] has been incredibly freeing because no matter what happened, I had the peace of mind of knowing all of the chatter, the name-calling, the doubting, all of it was just noise. It did not define me.”