Since leaving the White House, Michelle Obama’s been opening up about her experience as the first Black First Lady.
She’s written a best-selling book with Becoming and spoke at numerous events and forums, but her newest interview may be one of her realest.
Sitting down with Gayle King at the 25th Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, Obama was asked about the scrutiny her family received during the eight years Barack was president and the stereotypes she had to fight off being a Black woman. She also spoke about chapter 17 of Becoming, which details her transformation from Chicago lawyer to First Lady.
“It was important to tell that part of the story because they see me and Barack now, but they don't know how many punches it took us to get there,” she said. “'People from all sides, Democrats and Republicans, tried to take me out by the knees. And the best way they could do it was to focus on the strength of the Black woman, so they turned that into a caricature.
“For a minute there, I was an angry black woman who was emasculating her husband,” Obama continued, revealing the stereotypes she and Barack had to fight against.
Aside from being a mother during a large portion of daughters Sasha and Malia’s childhood, Michelle says she had to prove herself as the first Black First Lady in U.S. history.
“I had to prove that not only was I smart and strategic, but I had to work harder than any First Lady in history,” she said.
Also during the interview, Michelle Obama recalled Donald Trump’s inauguration and how the transfer of power took a big emotional toll on her and her family.
“And then we had to meet the Trumps. That day was very emotional and then to sit at that inauguration and to look around at a crowd that was not reflective of the country, and I had to sit in that audience as one of the handfuls of people of color, all that I had to hold on to over those last eight years, and it was a lot emotionally,” she detailed.
“Our upset wasn't over our legacy,” she continued. “We weren't there to instill our legacy, but the upset it would cause the country. What saddens me is what it's doing to the country as a whole. What we have to be really conscientious of is what kind of country we're leaving for our children or grandchildren.”
Watch Michelle Obama’s full interview with Gayle King below.
Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images
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