Michelle Obama has undoubtedly been one of the most memorable first ladies, and so it should come as no surprise that we’re really going to miss her. But for now, and in an attempt to celebrate her greatness, we’re taking a look back at her most powerful, inspiring speeches over the last eight years.
1. Democratic National Convention, 2008
Right back to where it all started — at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, Michelle Obama gave us a chance to get to know her and her husband (and subsequently fall in love with them).
The best part: “[Barack Obama will] achieve these goals the same way he always has — by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you’re from or what your background is or what party — if any — you belong to. That’s not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us — our belief in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future — is strong enough to hold us together as one nation, even when we disagree.”
2. Woman’s Day, 2011
Michelle Obama celebrated the achievements of women, and not just those who were part of the International Women of Courage Awards, but in all of America, with the most touching tribute.
The best part: “Women are now the majority of graduates of colleges and universities. We make up nearly half of America’s workforce. We got to get paid more for it. But we do. Women are thriving in every sector of our society. We are leading businesses. We’re serving at the highest levels of government and the armed forces. We’re breaking barriers and succeeding in careers that our mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.”
3. Martin Luther King Jr. Preparatory High School graduation, 2015
Michelle Obama spoke to students at the Martin Luther King Jr. Preparatory High School’s graduation ceremony in Chicago in 2015, telling the students to not let their hardships and failures discourage them from pursuing their education.
The best part: “Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed.”
4. Democratic National Convention, 2016
Earlier this year, Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and her speech was, in our minds, the most captivating speech of the entire convention. In it, Michelle spoke about her own personal experience in the White House and what it’s been like for her and Barack Obama to raise their two daughters in it as their home.
The best part: “With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but the children across this country, kids who tell us I saw you on TV, I wrote a report on you for school.
“Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope and he wondered, ‘Is my hair like yours?’
“And make no mistake about it, this November when we go to the polls that is what we’re deciding — not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, in this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.”
5. Tuskegee University commencement, 2015
Michelle Obama gave a 30-minute commencement address at Tuskegee University in which she addressed racial tensions and the struggles of black Americans.
The best part: “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?” she said. “Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover — 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?'”
6. Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit, 2015
During Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit, Obama addressed the global female education crisis and the Let Girls Learn campaign. Addressing the women in the crowd, she remarked on how education had allowed them to transform their lives.
The best part: “You all are the living, breathing proof that when women get a good education and have their voices heard in the halls of power, they don’t just transform their own lives, they transform the life of this nation and our entire world. But unfortunately, as you all know, even today, many women never have these opportunities here in the U.S., and particularly in many developing countries across the globe. In fact, right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. They are not getting any formal education at all — no reading, no writing, no math. Nothing.”
7. Mulberry School for Girls in London, 2015
Michelle Obama campaigns hard for education, and during a trip to Mulberry School for Girls in London’s East End in June of 2015, she gave the 11- to 18-year-olds valuable advice — including the fact that they should strive to be more than just book-smart.
The best part: “Don’t just be book-smart, be smart about the world — know your community, know your politics. You have to be informed and engaged all the time — not just when you think it is interesting or cool. As young women, we have to be interested in politics. You have to think about your whole education.”
8. Topeka School District Senior Recognition Day assembly, 2014
Michelle Obama gave a speech to new high school graduates as part of the Topeka School District Senior Recognition Day, and she left them with some very thought-provoking words.
The best part: “No matter what you do, the point is to never be afraid to talk about these issues, particularly the issue of race, because even today, we still struggle to do that. This issue is so sensitive, so complicated, so bound up with a painful history.
“And we need your generation to help us break through — we need all of you to ask the hard questions and have the honest conversations because that is the only way we will heal the wounds of the past and move forward to a better future.”
Are you going to miss Michelle Obama as FLOTUS? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.