A group of students at Spelman College in Atlanta had a session Saturday they won’t soon forget.
The Honors political science class, made up of students from Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, met the woman they spent the last semester studying: Michelle Obama.
The former first lady surprised the young people with a visit ahead of her sold-out appearance at State Farm Arena. The event, moderated by television host Gayle King, discusses Mrs. Obama’s best-selling memoir, “Becoming:Michelle Obama.”
The students at the historically black and colleges and universities, or HBCUs, used Mrs. Obama’s book as a foundational text for their course titled “Black Women: Developing Public Leadership Skills.”
Mrs. Obama opened the conversation by telling the students she wanted to listen to them.
“I’m here for you. I am very excited to hear from you all what you got from it,” she said.
Morehouse College Student Lanarion Norwood Jr. was the first to answer the former first lady.
“I’m a plant growing up in the middle of the country, trying to find my way…” Norwood stressed before sharing feelings of not belonging.
After hearing a similar comment from another student, Mrs. Obama began to share her experiences. She told the students to believe in themselves even if they have challenges and “haters.” She also said she had to push through critics and self-doubt during her studies at Princeton University as well as throughout her husband Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and two terms in office. Through it all, she said she gained confidence.
“I’ve been to the mountaintop, and I’m coming back down to tell you all you are deserving and worthy,” Obama said, echoing part of a speech from Atlanta civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dozens of students and community members gathered outside Giles Hall, while the two-hour conversation happened. Many of them held their copies of the “Becoming” memoir.
Spelman College student Shania Warren waited for a glimpse of Mrs. Obama. She said it was important to see the former first lady because she lost her mother a couple of months ago. Her mother was a fan of Mrs. Obama. Warren found the experience a fitting tribute on Mother’s Day weekend.
“It encourages me to want to be who I am,” Warren said. “Her coming to Spelman lets me know that she understands the importance of our education that we get here and she understands the importance of us seeing a black woman in power.”