- To Mom, Dad, Craig and all of my special friends: Thank-you for loving me and always making me feel good about myself.
- Dedication, Senior thesis, Princeton University (1985)
- My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before. I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second.
- Senior thesis, Princeton University (1985), quoted in "Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide" by Jeffrey Ressner at Politico.com (23 February 2008)
- By actually working with the Black lower class or within their communities as a result of their ideologies, a separationist may better understand the desparation [sic] of their situation and feel more hopeless about a resolution as opposed to an integrationist who is ignorant to [sic] their plight.
- One of the things — the important aspects of this race — is role modeling what good families should look like. Our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House.
- I am desperate for change — now — not in 8 years or 12 years, but right now. We don’t have time to wait. We need big change — not just the shifting of power among insiders. We need to change the game, because the game is broken. When I think about the country I want to give my children, it’s not the world we have now. All I have to do is look into the faces of my children, and I realize how much work we need to do.
- Campaign speech, quoted in "First Lady in Waiting" by Leslie Bennetts in Vanity Fair Web exclusive (27 December 2007)
- Barack is one of the smartest men we will see in our lifetime.
- Campaign rally, Las Vegas, Nevada (17 January 2008)
- You can't handle goody bags. Let me explain the goody bag thing. You have to go into the party store and choose the bags. Then you have to choose what to put in the bags, and what is in the boys' bags has to be different from what is in the girls' bags. You'd walk in there and wander around the aisles for an hour, and then your head would explode.
- We need to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation. We have lost our way. And it begins with inspiration. It begins with leadership.
- Campaign rally, Los Angeles, California (3 February 2008)
- Let me tell you something. For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.
- Campaign rally, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (18 February 2008) In another version (on the same video), she inserted the word 'really' before proud.
- What we've learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something — for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud.
- Campaign rally, Madison, Wisconsin, CSPAN: Campaign 2008 (18 February 2008)
- If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn't be here. I guarantee you that.
- He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.
- Campaign rally at UCLA, quoted in "It’s All About Him" by William Kristol in The New York Times (25 February 2008)
- Translating hope into action is something Barack has done for his entire career.
- Ich höre, er ist ein eindrucksvoller Typ. Ein großartiger Redner. Ein Juraprofessor. Ein Bestsellerautor. Und ein Grammy-Gewinner. Bewundernswert! Doch wie bringe ich das in Einklang mit dem Typen, der bei mir zu Hause lebt? - about her husband Barack Obama, www.focus.de, (26 May 2008)
- Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her, but I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya, we know that story. Just a week after she performed at my husband's inauguration, she went to a park with some friends and got shot in the back because some kid thought she was in a gang. Hadiya's family did everything right, but she still didn't have a chance. And that story, the story of Hadiya's life and death, we read that story day after day, month after month, year after year, in this city and around this country. So I'm not talking about something happening in a war zone, halfway around the world. I am talking about what is happening in the city that we call home.
- Now, just think about this for a moment: For generations, in many parts of this country, it was illegal for black people to get an education. Slaves caught reading or writing could be beaten to within an inch of their lives. Anyone -- black or white -- who dared to teach them could be fined or thrown into jail. And yet, just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, this school was founded not just to educate African Americans, but to teach them how to educate others. It was in many ways an act of defiance, an eloquent rebuttal to the idea that black people couldn’t or shouldn’t be educated. And since then, generations of students from all backgrounds have come to this school to be challenged, inspired and empowered. And they have gone on to become leaders here in Maryland and across this country, running businesses, educating young people, leading the high-tech industries that will power our economy for decades to come.
- In one Eastern Shore town, a teacher reported to work one morning to find that someone had smashed the windows of her schoolhouse. Other black schools across Maryland were burned to the ground. Teachers received death threats. One was even beaten by an angry mob. But despite the risks, understand, students flocked to these schools in droves, often walking as many as eight to ten miles a day to get their education. In fact, the educational association that founded Bowie State wrote in their 1864 report that -- and this is a quote -- “These people are coming in beyond our ability to receive them.” Desperately poor communities held fundraisers for these schools, schools which they often built with their own hands. And folks who were barely scraping by dug deep into their own pockets to donate money.
- But today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of “separate but equal,” when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper. Right now, one in three African American students are dropping out of high school. Only one in five African Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 has gotten a college degree -- one in five.
- See, my parents didn't go to college, but they were determined to give us that opportunity. My dad was a pump operator at the city water plant, diagnosed with MS in his early thirties. And every morning I watched him struggle to get out of bed and inch his way to his walker, and painstakingly button his uniform, but never once did I hear him complain. Not once. He just kept getting up, day after day, year after year, to do whatever he could to give our family a better shot at life.
- And then there’s this guy, Barack Obama, who lost – I could take up a whole afternoon talking about his failures, but – he lost his first race for Congress, and now he gets to call himself my husband,
- , CNSNews, May 20, 2013.
- See, the truth is that if Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to that school -- never. And I know that there are so many kids out there just like me -- kids who have a world of potential, but maybe their parents never went to college or maybe they’ve never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there.
- When I first arrived at school as a first-generation college student, I didn’t know anyone on campus except my brother. I didn’t know how to pick the right classes or find the right buildings. I didn’t even bring the right size sheets for my dorm room bed. I didn’t realize those beds were so long. So I was a little overwhelmed and a little isolated.
- I would be very present in his life right now. I would be probably with him a good chunk of the time, just there to talk, to figure out what's going on in his head, to figure out who's in his life and who's not, you know.
- A lot of young people think they're invincible, but the truth is young people are knuckleheads.
- During appearance on "Tonight Show" (21 February 2014)]
- Now young people can get insurance for as little as $50 a month, less than the cost of gym shoes.
- Today we’re celebrating the kind of music that makes you move no matter who you are or where you come from; music that taps into feelings and experiences that we all share — love and heartbreak, pride and doubt, tragedy and triumph. It is called soul music.
- Sometimes it makes your hips move. Sometimes it makes you rock your head. Sometimes it helps you just kick back and relax and soak it in. But no matter what form it comes in, you know this music always comes straight from the heart. You know you’re listening to someone who’s found her own unique voice, and isn’t afraid to show it to the world. And these women are perfect examples of just that.
- Women are smarter than men.
- Speaking at a women's forum at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington – The Washington Times (6 August 2014)
To Live Beyond Our Fear (2007)
- Speech introducing her husband at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa (16 August 2007) - YouTube Video
- Barack and I talked long and hard about this decision. You know, this wasn’t an easy decision for us, because we’ve got two beautiful little girls, and we have a wonderful life, and everything was going fine. And there was nothing that would have been more disruptive than a decision to run for President of the United States.
And as more people talk to us about it, I mean the question came up again and again. What people were most concerned about: they were afraid. It was fear. Fear, again, raising its ugly head, in one of the most important decisions we would make. Fear; fear of everything. Fear that we might lose. Fear that he might get hurt. Fear that this would be ugly. Fear that it would hurt our family. Fear.
But you know, the reason why I said yes was because I was tired of being afraid. I am tired of living in a country where every decision that we’ve made over the last ten years wasn’t for something, but it was because people told us we had to fear something. We had to fear people who looked different from us. Fear people who believed in things that were different from us. Fear of one another right here in our own backyards.
I am so tired of fear. And I don’t want my girls to live in a country, in a world, based on fear.
- The thing that I want you all to remember: please, please, don’t base your vote, this time, on fear. Base it on possibility. Think. Listen. The game of politics is to make you afraid so that you don’t think. And what we need right now isn’t political rhetoric, it isn’t game-playing. We need leadership; we need people with judgment; we need decent people, people with common sense, people with strong family values. People who understand the world.
- We have this window of opportunity; we have a chance to make something real happen. Something possible happen, to live beyond our fear — think about that, and help us. Help lift us up, help us fight this fight to change — transform — this country in a fundamental way.
This chance won’t come around again.
Democratic National Convention speech (2008)
- As you might imagine, for Barack, running for president is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother, Craig.
- I can't tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I've felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life. At 6-foot-6, I've often felt like Craig was looking down on me too … literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn't looking down on me. He was watching over me.
- I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend. I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president. I come here as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world — they're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children's future — is my stake in this election.
- My dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 30s, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing — even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier and worked a little harder.
- And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he'd grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working-class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.
- And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
- And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he'd done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down and jobs dried up. And he'd been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.
- People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift — without disappointment, without regret — that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they're working for.
- People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters — and sons — can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher. People like Joe Biden, who's never forgotten where he came from and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.
- And in my own life, in my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us — no matter what our age or background or walk of life — each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.
- Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.
- And in the end, after all that's happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer, inching along at a snail's pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he'd struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father's love.
- So tonight, in honor of my father's memory and my daughters' future — out of gratitude to those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment — let us devote ourselves to finishing their work; let us work together to fulfill their hopes; and let us stand together to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America.
Democratic National Convention speech (2012)
- Over the past few years as First Lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country.
- And everywhere I've gone, in the people I've met, and the stories I've heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit. I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.
- Every day, the people I meet inspire me, every day, they make me proud, every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.
- Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege...but back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we'd begun. While I believed deeply in my husband's vision for this country...and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President...like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance.
- I loved Barack just the way he was.
- My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young. And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain...I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed.
- Barack's grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank, and she moved quickly up the ranks, but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling. And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack's family continued to scrape by. But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus...arriving at work before anyone else...giving her best without complaint or regret. And she would often tell Barack, "So long as you kids do well, Bar, that's all that really matters."
- Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much. They didn't begrudge anyone else's success or care that others had much more than they did, in fact, they admired it. They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids. That's how they raised us; that's what we learned from their example.
- We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make...that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself. We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters, that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square. We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean, and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect.
- Those are the values that Barack and I and so many of you are trying to pass on to our own children. That's who we are. And standing before you four years ago, I knew that I did not want any of that to change if Barack became president. Well today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, and I have seen firsthand that being president does not change who you are. No, it reveals the you are.
- So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character and his convictions and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.
- And if so many brave men and women could sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights, then surely we can do our parts as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights. Surely we can get to the polls on a election day and make our voices heard.
Quotes about Obama
- Occasionally, it gives campaign people heartburn. … She’s fundamentally honest — goes out there, speaks her mind, jokes. She doesn’t parse her words or select them with an antenna for political correctness.
- Obama begins with a broad assessment of life in America in 2008, and life is not good: we’re a divided country, we’re a country that is “just downright mean,” we are “guided by fear,” we’re a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents. “We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day,” she said, as heads bobbed in the pews. “Folks are just jammed up, and it’s gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I’m young. Forty-four!”
- To describe it [Michelle Obama's 1985 thesis at Princeton University] as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be "read" at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn't written in any known language.