Do you remember your graduation speaker, or the lessons they bestowed upon you and your classmates as you prepared for life after college? First Lady Michelle Obama recently gave a speech at Tuskegee University that we’re sure few will forget.
The First Lady reminded us why we love her so much—and perhaps gave us a sneak peek as to who she might be after the Obamas leave the White House. Her speech to the Tuskegee University Class of 2015 touched on the institution’s storied past, while also calling to mind her own experience with discrimination.
“You might think of that history and feel a little bit of pressure,” she continued. “Pressure to meet the expectation of others. Believe me, I understand that kind of pressure. I did not start out as the fully formed First Lady that stands in front of you, no, I had my fair share of bumps on the way.”
Over the crowd’s knowing laughter, Obama gave a very candid review of her the criticisms she received before and after she became the First Lady of the United States.
Was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?
“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 expectations of others. Was I too loud, or too angry? Was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?”
Going over the litany of slurs thrown her way—including that infamous fist bumping (or “terrorist jabbing”) New Yorker cover—Obama came to a conclusion that we hope the students gathered today, hell, all of us, will always remember:
“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 plans for me. I’ve had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself. And the rest will work itself out. So through this journey I’ve learned to block everything out, and focus on my truth.”
As one audience member in the crowd shouted, “Preach.”
Watch the full video below, or click the link to jump to the part of Obama’s Tuskegee speech where she discusses her “bumps” to becoming the fully realized woman we all know and love.