• Terrell Whitener

Michelle Obama: A Voice You Can Believe In

In the second in my series or articles on the leading voices in the African-American community leading up to the 2020 election I am honored to focus this article on Michelle Obama. Since many of us were first introduced to her as the wife of then Senator Barack Obama eleven years ago, Michelle Obama has cut a wide swatch in the conscience of America. We have come to see her as not only a devoted wife, but a woman who had carved a successful career, a devoted mother, daughter, sister and style icon. Her confident and consistent nature allowed us to not only feel that we knew her but more importantly could trust her. It is because of this level of trust that I feel Mrs. Obama will play a significant role in delivering the message to the African-American community in the upcoming election season.

Though Mrs. Obama does not serve as a politician herself, she has delivered memorable speeches in several high-profile political settings. Whether on the campaign trail for her husband or other candidates, it is her common-sense nature, dignified approach that has allowed us to trust that she believes what she says. In the current climate where ‘alternative facts’ are considered by some to hold the same weight as the actual truth, the need for a plain-spoken public figure such as Michelle Obama is a breath of fresh air. It is this ‘I’m just one of you’ style of communicating with her constituency that enhances her status as a major voice in the community.

In addition to her gifted communication style, we recently can add best-selling author to her list of accomplishments. Her book Becoming has only strengthened the regard that her fans have for her as in the book she reveals details in her life that few persons were aware of previously. In the New York Times author Tina Jordan reminds us that Mrs. Obama reach is much broader than just the African-American community of course but reaches worldwide. This fact only serves to enhance her influence and credibility domestically as well.

Mrs. Obama’s tenure in the public eye has not been without controversy however, as during her tenure as first lady she found her self being scrutinized about everything from where she vacationed to what she wore. Too aloof, too common, too outspoken not affable enough were all observations she endured during her time as the nation’s first lady. But through it all she maintained her dignity and modeled how we should conduct herself. Nothing exemplified this more than her now memorable quote “When they go low, we go high”. It is based on those words that Michelle will continue to speak to us in the coming months. Just like the much sought-after support of her husband, when the right time comes, I am confident Michelle will avail herself to help in any way the candidate of her choice will deem appropriate. Rest assured when that tie comes, Michelle Obama will deliver, and the community will be listening.

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