tv American Library Association Conference - Michelle Obama Keynote CSPAN June 30, 2018 7:45pm-9:01pm EDT
zero but this was over 5000. kids already had every adversity with victims of child abuse or neglect or traumatize or had no family they had already suffered trauma in life and now their level for 5000 parts per billion in the world was conspiring against them and this was the lowest moment. how do we care for the most honorable children? -- vulnerable children >> now the person you all came to see. [applause]
michelle robinson obama 17. [applause] she is a lawyer, author, and the wife of the 45th president of united states, barack obama t2 t2. [applause] and throughout her tenure of first lady she is a role model for women and girls had an advocate for healthy families and service members and their families and higher education and international adolescent girls education and her much anticipated book will be published in u.s. and canada november 13, 2018 by crown a
division of penguin random house and it will be released simultaneously in 24 languages. considered one of the most popular first ladies. [applause] obama and vice leaders into her world to chronicle the experience to shape her childhood on the southside of chicago with her years as an executive balancing the demands with work to her time spent at the world's most famous address warm and wise this is a deeply personal reckoning of a woman of
substance who has defied expectations and her story inspires us to we are also fortunate to have librarian of congress _spee17 to have a conversation with with mrs. obama today she was nominated to the position by president barack obama februar february 2016 and her nomination was confirmed by the u.s. senate july 2016 as the 14th librarian of congress librarian of congress carla hayden and first lady mrs. obama come together now for "in-depth" conversation around her forthcoming memoir becoming and the experiences that has infected her life and her family and her country.
just remember our days back in washington d.c. i have known carla and i was at bb professional you should not need nervous. >> and coming back from the third library was particular portfolio and made such a difference to have somebody who understood libraries and read to be in government like that. [laughter] >> that was her. that was not shade she was making a point payment coming in from academic library. >> we go way back. >> so you reading is a big part of your family. >> yes. absolutely.
we are readers, the obama we started reading to the girls when they were babies because as a little kid i love to read aloud i would set up the animals and the barbie means to them and show them the pictures. i'm not that active reading aloud so my kids are my real baby like agreed to so i read to them all the time. all the time i know every route -- word of any dr. seuss anything by heart and as the girls grew up again to incorporate that as a family activities so we started to be more complex book together so
barack read all of the harry potter book out loud from front to back and then she can see the movie after that that was there thing i stayed out of that i don't know anything about harry potter i wasn't going to get involved in so that is there thing. so when sasha got older i read life of pi we love calvin and hobbes we are big comic readers we were a big family so yes. reading was the way we put our kids to sleep that night. i felt that music and culture was an important part of the development from very early on. we are being agreed so in the
white house with holiday time they would be going to the bookstore buying books as gifts to mikesell he plays he knew how to go as president that is the only thing else comfortable doing outside of the white house but that was animal an which will to go to one of the bookstores for the holidays and in chicago bookstore that was our neighborhood store so yes. books and libraries of course were a big part of my life very early on. my first experience going to the library, i was for one --
four years old the first official time i got an identification you feel important with your name on it and i remember going into the library in our neighborhood three blocks from our house and my mom was a housewife at the time would take that was my first major big girl thing i could do to get my library card watch them put me into the official files i didn't know what to do with it because i didn't have a wallet or purse but i felt special to have and it was a community place for us, it is a major part of any community and that was the place to get the early books dick and jane, then you
go into the children's corner and then we would graduate to go upstairs where the books were darker and that is for the mysterious books were upstairs you ever get to g go? >> one day. i graduated that that is when the library became work like research papers and the dewey decimal system only here can we give a shout out to the dewey decimal system. [laughter] i love you all. i do. [laughter] see you continue down into school and all of that and then your life got even busier. how do you read for pleasure? was there a chance to read anything? michael yes.
there were moments of. today however i spent most of my time selfishly focused on my book so that is what i'm readin reading. >> i have been immersed in that process so this year has been a little tougher for me because in trying to say in my voice but when i do have time my chief of staff melissa by the way is more excited to be here then she was to meet bruce springsteen. she is my book recommender she loves you all and i may lose her here tonight she may leave me she has been with me from the very beginning of the campaign she is my real and i usually read what she told me i should read she will throw some in my bag but i have a
neck like dick taste i love something that takes me outside of myself. i accidentally. >> reporter: that two years ago but then it's on my shelf and i thought have have i read this? i started to read that i must have esp because i know what will happen on the next page. that is how my life has been i forget what i have read but then by the third chapter i realized i read that and i finished it. i love her storytelling and her characters. i just been reading exit west which was very powerful and
the nightingale i love all of the stuff. i love the stories i love to escape that escape over the past ten years to get out of my story even into somebody else's story. >> it is easy to get lost in a book. >> i could not be in the white house there was too much going on and we were running so fast whenever i got a chance to sit down to pick up a book maybe i would get a sentence and fall asleep. literally i don't know if i was napping or passed out i cannot tell the difference i would wake up and it would be in our.
that is how the white house years felt. so normally on a longer trip i could get into a book. but it was a hectic eight years being that you said pick up the book that is physical? >> i am not the reader i like to have a book in my hands. [applause] but even in my writing process i like to hold it i can't edit on the computer well i feel i have to write down my thoughts. i can jot down the things on the iphone but that is
my job entailed doing one thing a thousand times every day all day over and over again. so i got to put a little mid-thing in a hole and then pass the cardboard over to the guy that would put it down. my job was to take the metal thing and put in the hall. and i was good with doing that for the first day even. and i was aiming at finishing it. i thought they would like be thousands of them. i would prove that i was so fast that i could complete it and be done. and then is never over the just kept coming. little piece of cardboard and little things. it went on for weeks and weeks doing the same thing. i just thought my god i'm ready for college. i can do this. it taught me a great respect for the men and women who do
that work every day. that thankless work that makes it possible for us to have books and folders and i learned work ethic the dozens of people in that planter came there and did the same job every day for years and years and years. they remind me of my father. those blue-collar workers who didn't look for passion in their jobs. they didn't have the luxury like we did to think about doing the things that we love. had to do things that put food on the table. and that was my first experience shoulder to shoulder with men and women making a living for the families. >> what it took for your father to go to work. and provide an things.
every value that i have in me came from my mother and father and watching them day today. as most people know, my father was blue-collar worker. his entire life with one job. and my father had ms and contracted at the prime of his life. so i never knew them to be able to walk without the assistance of a cane. but my father got up every day with the shift job. so some days he was on nights, sometimes on evenings. so his schedule changed and i remember him putting on his white t-shirt and his blue button up uniform and getting his crutches and making his way out the back door of the car. to go to his job without complaints, without regret, because he was proud that he had a job that allowed him to invest in his children. me and my brother.
with that blue-collar salary he put two of us through college. princeton at that! and he made sure that you know those were, we went to the school long before they had financial assistance that puts you completely through. we were still paying. her parents had to pay a portion our tuition. he made sure our tuition was paid on time. we were never going to be late and not be able to register for classes. so who i am today, so much is because of my parents. and that hard work ethic. your word is your bond, you do what you going to do or what you say you are going to do. trust is important. honor and honesty. i saw my father behave in that way every single day with everyone regardless of race or
station in life.that is why write about when i write my book and i, how i care myself in the world. i do what i think marion and frazier would expect me to do. i hope to be that person for them. [applause] >> my mom is here. >> is your mom here? >> yes, sorry. and so when ever anything happens, she says, mrs. robinson, she models after your mom. how your mom handled all of that. your mom was right there. >> you know, grandma. we could not have made it through the white house without her. you know, just having her, she has been helping me help me
long before the white house because barack was always, he was a senator and u.s. senate and those are jobs that have him away from home.usually most of the week. and i still had a full-time job. at any point time i was a professional with a job on my own. we had two little kids and we could afford help and we have a couple of great babysitters and i had one good babysitter and it crushed me like nothing else when she said she had to leave because she needed to make more money i thought i would losing an arm. barack was trying to console me and i said dude, get out of here. you are of no help to me. i do not need you. you do nothing for me.
i remember the pain and i thought, how can i go to work every day and not know that my kids are good? that there was somebody who loves them. which is not to get on a soapbox which is why affordable childcare is so important because so many -- [applause] having access to that kind of security. for all of the families out there who do not have a choice, they have to go to work. i know that pain of what it feels like when you don't know your kids are good. and good not just being safe but they are in a place where somebody loves them and is going to instill values in them it is going to read to them and take them to the library and not just going to plop them in front of the tv. i was about to quit working. and i thought, i just cannot do it. i cannot keep up the balance. and he stepped in but my mom, who was not yet retired but she would come over at the crack of dawn.
allow me to go to the gym, she would start getting the kids ready for school, she would wake them up, fix breakfast, i would come back, grab them and take them to school. she would go to work. she would get off, come pick them up, get them home, start dinner. by that time i would get home. we had a routine down. and there's just something about having your mom in the place where you know she will kill someone for her grandchildren. she was a grandmother at the pickup line she was going to be the one the first pickup line peer because she didn't want her grandbabies walking around wondering where their ride was. and she would get there an hour before pickup to be the first car. so that she could see her babies and say bring them here. you can't pay for that. so we brought that energy with us to the white house. and we needed it. that kind of no-nonsense, solid, tell it like it is, unimpressed with everything kind of personality, that is
marion robinson. you know, she did not want anybody doing her laundry at the white house. she could do her laundry just fine. >> really? >> she was notorious -- we had housekeepers and butlers. and everything! at the white house. she was like, don't touch my underwear. i got it. [laughter] too old for that. my mom is a role model! >> you talk to girls to do their laundry. so they had laundry duty with grandma. >> she also helped keep them grounded. >> oh my god, yeah! she kept the whole white house grounded. and everybody used to go up to her room. the butlers, the staff. they would chitchat with her, she was there getting -- giving some wisdom. she kept us humble and focused
on what was important. she was my sounding board. anytime anything crazy happened over the course of the day, the first thing i would do, her suite of rooms were on the third floor. above us. i would go there and i would sit on her couch. she would have on msnbc or something peer to be try not to talk about what was on the news until i let her know i was ready to talk about it. and she would do what she always did. sit there and just listen and say mhm. my mother is not going to solve your problems for you. she would listen and say what you think about that? and then you figured out. by the time you leave you figure out, i feel great! so much of my ability to get out there again and again and again had to do with going up to that little counseling room and sitting and having marion
robinson say mhm, mhm. you'll be fine. just go on back down there. don't stop now. >> did she retell you, you know you talk about that a lot, what are you going to do? no. my mother, and i write about this. how my parents had a sense of parenting at a very early age. they taught us how to advocate for ourselves very early. so her expectation was like you know how to fix your problems. you know what to do. and when you teach kids at an early age of ever voice or listening to, number one in that their opinions actually matter, that is what they get day in and day out at the dinner table. two adults listening intently and asking questions and you know, encouraging kids to contribute, that was our dinner
table. when you came home from school, with the problem, you can err it.but you had to go back and solve it. so, at 40, 50 years old, my mother was not assuming at all she had to solve any problems i had his first lady. her expectations were, you'll do this and you would do it well because you know how to do this. there was never any need for her to even attend like she had to give me direction. she knew she had instilled those values in me when i was four and five and seven.so she had done the work. >> what a blessing. she mentioned, you almost thought about -- you did have and i don't know how may people realize, what high positions you had as a career woman. to balance that. >> before i was first lady? >> yes!
>> i had a job before i was first lady, everyone. [laughter] sometimes it gets lost. >> executive vice president. >> i was smart, i continue to be. that's why sometimes when i get the question -- [applause] how did you know what to do as first lady? i said okay, i went to princeton, harvard law, a lawyer, working in the city. worked with carla, working on libraries. planning and economic development, nonprofit organization, vice president of the hospital. i don't know -- maybe it was osmosis. i don't know. instinct. [applause] >> you used some of your experiences. >> a did not come to the position of first lady a blank slate. that is sort of what happens in society with, you become a spouse all of a sudden. and i felt, talk about this in the book. how i felt myself becoming a spouse. i went from being an executive
to becoming a spouse. the first thing people talk about was, what shoes is she wearing?like, no, no, people. you are not focusing on my shoes, right? i'm standing in front of a military family. or doing important things. so, yes, there were moments in my profession because the burden of child rearing fell on me as a woman. you know, there was a part of my trajectory as my husbands ascent got faster and higher and louder, there was the challenge of, how do i make sure that my kids are sane? those doubts, how do you balance it all? and is it fair that we are his rocketship ride when i have one
too. but that is something i write about.you have that balance in marriage. i tell young people this all the time. particularly with young women. that what i have learned is that you can have it all but you usually cannot have it all at the same time. and that is a myth that even having the expectation of having it all is a set up for young people, young couples, young men and women with children. the notion that you are not successful if you do not have it all. well, it is hard to balance it all. but i started to learn that life is long. and they are trade-offs that you make and i think that the trade-off of stepping off of my path until at least i found a childcare solution that works for me, which was my mom. i entertained the notion of stepping off on my track because i felt like i have these two kids and i brought them here. so my first priority is to make sure that they are okay. i cannot save the world if my household is not solid.
[applause] but the other thing i learned at that point in time, when i was ready to jump off professional track, i started not caring. what people thought about me, professionally. i felt more freedom to ask for what i needed. i wound up staying in my career because i had an opportunity to become the vice president of community affairs at the university of chicago. the president was looking for a new person to head the division and i had just had sasha. she was four months opiate i said i'm not doing it! don't care, don't care about work. but one of my good friends said you should interview because this guy is really different. and i said okay, i don't care. so i took, i was still
breast-feeding. i said we are going to an interview baby. we're going to see this man who wants to work for him but we don't care. so we are going and he needs to see all of me. i have a baby and a husband who is a u.s. senator, whatever he was doing at the time. it's like -- [laughter] you want to hire me? the me tell you what it will take. i need this much money, flexibility, i laid down a whole list of demands that i knew were going to have him running. in the other direction! [applause] because i really felt the freedom to be like, if you can do this, this, this and this then maybe i will think about it. and he said, yes! to all of the list. all of the things i asked for. and i said, wow! i guess i have to try this now. but what i learned there is that, women as individuals, you have to ask for what you need. and not assume that people are going to give you what you need. [applause] that taught me that i can
define the terms of my professional life. in a way i did not feel that freedom to do. i thought if i'm going to do it i will do in a way that provides balance. and you know, i told folks, don't expect me at every meeting. don't expect me to come to meetings we were not doing anything. because i am going to the halloween parade. and that is important. and i'm doing my job and i'm doing it well but this meeting is not necessary. so i felt that freedom for the first time in my professional life to ask for what i need. knowing that i was worthy of it. that i was valuable to them. even in all of my complicated nest. i was still giving them value. but i had to learn to appreciate the value before i can ask for what i needed. >> right. and not be afraid. >> gosh! not to be afraid at all. which is easier said than done. i understand. it is not easy to tell somebody that you are worth a lot. especially for women.
we have a hard time saying that about ourselves. i know my worth. and i can put a monetary number on it. that there is a value to it. [applause] and those are the kind of things that i am exploring in the book as well. and i'm not really just trying to push the book but these are things i've been thinking about the last year. i've been sort of reliving these things and figuring out what it's taught me. so i am writing about all of that. if i sound a little bit like therapy here. >> you are in it. >> i am still in it. >> and you have the time to be able to step back because you mentioned, going and going. you really have time to reflect as things were happening. >> there was no time to reflect and eight years.we did so much, so fast. and we also know we didn't have the luxury to make mistakes. when you are the first --
[applause] i live my life as the first, the only one of the table. barack and i knew very early that we would be measured by different yardsticks. making mistakes was not an option for us. not that we didn't make mistakes. but we had to be good. we had to be outstanding at everything we did. and when you are operating at that level, and you are trying to live up to the you know, the expectations of your ancestors, of your fathers. when you're the first, you are the one laying the red carpet down for others to follow. so, yes. we were moving fast. i was starting an initiative almost every year. during the eight years i was there. and when i started an
initiative, there's a lot of work that went into before hand. because coming to this work as a professional, i knew that strategic thinking about an initiative had to happen, the background work had to be done. when we started let's move, before we even launched it, we spent one year meeting with every expert in the field. we had already developed partnerships before we had even announced it. we had focus groups. we were meeting with legislators and policymakers. so that when we stepped out into the arena, we knew what the pitfalls would be. we know what the partnerships, where they needed to be. we knew where the holes were. we were doing at the same time that you would doing state visits and halloween parties and christmas decorations and so -- you are like, a swan with the paddling legs underneath. it was eight years of that. so yeah, i realize there was time that something really major would happen at the beginning of the week. let's say you met the pope or something like that.
>>. [applause] that is a weird thing. that is the stuff that we did. i met the pope or hanging out with the queen. it's like, okay.that is my week. that was my life!>> it could be in one week also. >> it could be in one week. a state visit, my first trip to africa, that was my solo trip, involved doing push-ups with bishop desmond tutu. literally. i was like, please get up. [laughter] he said no, no i'm going to do push-ups. come michelle! [laughter] i was doing push-ups with bishop desmond tutu. i gave a speech to young african women leaders. i met nelson mandela. we went on a safari.
i went to botswana. i mean that is like four days, all of that kind of stuff would happen in like four days. and then you go to the next week. and i could literally forget everything that just happened the week before because something like that would be happening in the next week. to be able to remember it all, to keep it all in your head, i would find myself forgetting. oh, yeah! i went to prague. i literally forgot that i had been to prague. and i am not, i mean ãwe have this conversation. somebody said, what you think of prague? and i said i had never been to prague. and my chief of staff said, yes, you have. and i said no, i've never been to prague, ever! and she said yes, we went back and forth and there was a picture of me in prague. i said, you are right! i forgot all about that. i was there for two days.
that is how, that is what the pace is. you can forget major things but not because they're not poor but they get crowded out with the next series of issues and demands. i don't know what the question was how we got on this. [laughter] >> we forgot the question. >> when you think about all of that and they have the two little ones. >> say that again? >> your two little ones. >> my kids! i never forgot about them. >> and so, that balance, what people are thinking about balance and how you do it, any advice for how people can try to -- >> there is a lot of advice for balance. my balance is crazy. you know because you are the first lady but you are also trying to go to the potluck and the soccer game and you know, i tell the story of how barack went to parent-teacher conference.
and you know, he is a big motorcade. big! [laughter] a lot of stuff. and men with machine guns, sniper gear, they followed him everywhere.in trucks leaning out looking at you like, i will kill you! because that is their job. but when there at the fourth grade on the roof of undergrad of the elementary school, even malia was like, dad, come on! everybody was sort of okay when dad didn't go. sort of politely going, dad, you have to come to the winter concert! it's okay. we will take a picture. you can take a pass! but i would be there and mom would be there. and you're trying to be a normal parent in the midst of this. you know, when your kids is invited over for a sleepover and you have to explain to them, we need your social
security number and then there will be dogs sweeping your house and they going to ask if you have guns and drugs and you have to tell them. sorry, julia's mom, but this is what it means to have sasha over but it's going to be fine! [laughter] >> they will have fun! >> but kids have fun. they learn how to work past all of that. but you're balancing. at least i was balancing. not just the act of being a mother but being the first lady of the first daughters who had their own detail. all the time. so imagine, trying to go to prom with eight men with guns, doing anything else that you're trying to do as a teenager. with eight men with guns. barack and i were very happy about it. [laughter] >> even had to learn how to like discipline them without
letting them think that the agents told on them, right? all parents understand this.i had to lie a little bit about where i got my information from. like how did i know that no parent was at that party? julia's mom called me and told me. [laughter] not because i got a whole report and detail.it is like why are they so dumb not to know that? [laughter] how do you think i knew? >> they are kids. >> those are some of our parenting scenarios. so, my goal is the parent was to try and make sure my kids had normalcy. that was a different set of challenges for the average parent but here's the thing that i learned. one of the things i learned living in the white house is that kids don't need that much. you know, if they know you love them, unconditionally, you can
live in the white house, you can live in a little bitty apartment. i grew up in one. home is what you make of it inside. it is the interaction that you have every day. and it doesn't have to be perfect. [applause] it can be broken and funny and odd in many ways. and you know, our oddness was a level dysfunction that most families will never experience but it was odd. and the kids are resilient. they make it through. which is why i think about all of the kids that don't make it through. because it takes a lot to break a kid. you know, it takes a lot. but there are so many broken kids, which reminds us how bad we are doing. because you have to do really messed up stuff to kids to send them off. they have to come from a brokenness that is so deep and off and we have to see that in
our children and understand that when kids act out, there is a reason for it. there is no such thing as bad kids. kids are not born bad. [applause] they are not. they are products of their situation. i've learned to give myself a break. because my kids are loved and they are going to be fine and we mess up a lot. you make a lot of wrong calls us parents. but you know, we hold them to high standards as people. you know, we don't measure them by things and grades. we measure them for how they interact in the world. how do they treat their friends? how do they treat each other? things like kindness and compassion and empathy. those are the things that we have tried to teach them over these years. [applause] and here's the thing, kids watch what you do. not what you say. the biggest thing that barack
and i could ever do to be good parents to our kids is to be good people in the world for them to see every day. [applause] and that is true whether you are the president and the first lady or you are marion and fraser robinson. those standards, they don't know title, they don't know income. that is just all that kids need. and as you librarians know, you're working in the communities and you are seeing these kids come to your doors and they come with such promise and they just want somebody to love them. you know? they just want somebody to tell them that they are okay. and that is one of the things i've tried to do is first lady with kids. so much with kids. because i always thought, this is the interaction that could change a kids life. one hug, one, you are worth it. [applause] you never know what can make a
difference. [applause] >> now, all of this giving to the communities, you're giving to your children, you are giving. but you also, i heard you say it. that sometimes you have to put yourself first or not feel guilty about taking care of yourself. how? >> yes, ladies! men to but let's talk to the ladies a little bit on this one. because we do that, right? we put ourselves forth on the priority list after everyone else. and we are sort of, sometimes we are not even on our own list at all. it is so filled with so many obligations and the guilt that we have. and you know, this is nothing new but the oxygen mask metaphor is real.
you cannot save someone if you are dying inside. and that can look like so many different things. it can be our sense of self-worth. her own physical health, our mental well-being. all of that, if we let that go and we don't nurture it as women, we are not good to anybody else. and you know, that is something that you have to practice. and that is what i had to learn. i had to learn that because i didn't see that even in my mother. my mother was one of those who didn't do anything for herself. her mother died her own hair until she turned to green. and i was like, mom, it's green! it's not working. you don't know what you're doing. just go to the hairdresser. and she said it's fine!
it's just green! >> i can relate to that. >> i remember that. you know? so, i grew up with women that did not put themselves first. i thought, i want to show my girls something else. and i want them to see that being a good woman out here in the world means that you are smart, educated, yes you are gentle and kind and loving. but you know, you can do some push-ups. you know, you can -- you are going to think about what you put into your body, what you eat. you're going to take time out for yourself. you're going to invest in your relationships with your friends. i thought it was important for me to, my girls to see me having strong friendships with women in my life. i have a posse of women who keep me sane. [applause] >> that is what i wanted to know. >> oh yeah. and the posse started early in my life. i always had a crew of girls. i had my lunchtime girls. we went over to each other's house at lunchtime in grade school and we played jax and
complained about the teacher and just analyze things and watched all of my children. then we got ourselves together and we were fortified and you go back in and finish the day. that was my early group. but when my kids were young, had a really strong group of women, still do. these women are still a major part of my life. i couldn't have gone through the early years without them because we were all at varying stages in our professional careers. some were single parents, some were married, some had husbands who traveled. but every saturday we would get together and we started when the babies were in the cradles. we would just set them down around each other in a circle so they can look at each other. [laughter] and then we talked about everything! about, are they walking yet? all of the questions you have as a new mother. and you don't know whether you're doing anything right.
it was just nice to be around a group of women who knew just like you, they didn't know anything either. we were all just messing up. and it was okay. but we became our most important confidants. as mothers raising kids and the kids, all of these kids who have come up together are like cousins. and they are out in the world and they all have done well. which was another lesson that i learned. you can parent all different kinds of ways. there is no one right way to do it. again, if there is love and consistency in the foundation and security, they are going to be okay. so we start to learn to let ourselves off the hook. and then we started doing fun stuff together. we worked out together, the same woman i would do boot camp with at camp david. i want to thank these women who would come because i was trying to get everybody healthy. so like once a season i would bring them to camp david and we would you like these intensive
workouts. and i like eliminated wine and stuff like that until everybody said they were coming unless i put wine back on the menu. [laughter] so i had to put wine back on there to not lose my friends. we work out three times a day and a little navy cadet, the kids would say, ma'am, go low on your push-ups. and you would say, you are just so cute! don't call me ma'am. [laughter] so we were getting healthy together. and we started doing little seminars. one of my friends was in ob/gyn. as we got older we would have sessions on menopause and that we would talk about other things i can't talk about here. but that group was, that was my crew! throughout the white house years. and that was part of that self-care that we all felt good about. and we all got stronger over these eight years. we, as women, this group of women. we got physically and mentally stronger together. in ways that, i love my husband.
he is my best friend. but they are more fun sometimes! [laughter] don't tell him! he doesn't know. i have more fun with them sometimes. but they gave me the kind of -- fortification that i needed. and i encourage young mothers to understand that we were not meant to parent in isolation. and so many young parents because of you know, circumstances.maybe they were transferred living away from their homes. military families, the young military mother would move away from her family. she would have kids, be alone and wondering, why is this so hard? i would say because you're not supposed to do this alone. children were not meant to be
raised in isolation. we need community. it does take a village. and so, i encourage young women to build their village. it is not at home with your mom and your aunt in your cousins, then wherever you are, build that village. it will be your foundation. it keeps you sane and it keeps you in balance in a way that i think we don't appreciate. >> what about fund? >> fun? >> yet. >> i just told you a bunch of fun we had. >> the push-ups? >> those are fun carla! you would not enjoy like working out with me? -- >> one push-up for me and one for you. [laughter] we had fun! we made sure that we had fun. we wanted the white house to be a place of fun. and particularly, in tough times. and we went through some tough times. crisis, shootings.
i mean, the amount of grief that we had to -- i won't even say, we weren't carrying it but we had to help the country get through. you cannot have all crisis. the country needs a moment to feel like they can celebrate in some way, shape or form. even in the darkest times. so we had halloween at the white house. and kids came and mostly military kids and families, they will come around and it was all decorated and the house was orange and everybody was in costume and they got to trick-or-treat at the white house. any major state event that we did, whether it was a state dinner or arrival, we found a way to incorporate kids in that. we had a big act performing in the evening. usually, they would agree to do a separate performance or a workshop with young kids from,
we would fly them in from all over the country so they would be kids getting different experiences. the kids sat down and talked to every major star that came to the white house. we had the whole cast of hamilton come back and perform. [applause] it was a very full circle moment for me because we first met lin-manuel miranda at the first cultural event we did at the white house, it was the spoken word event. because spoken word, rap, poetry, for those you that don't know. was never done in the white house. so we were going to do that is the first event. so we refinance over the hottest young voices. and this kid came lin-manuel miranda and we said what are you going to perform, young
man? and he said i'm going to do a rap about alexander hamilton. [laughter] and we were like -- that is when you remember you're the president and the first lady and you cannot laugh in the face of your guests and say what? are you kidding? and then he went on to perform the first number. that was the first number he had prepared. and it was obviously amazing! so afterwards, we would like that is really good! and he said yes, i'm going to do a whole broadway show on it. and we were like, -- good luck with that, kid! [laughter] and then it blew up. and we invited the whole cast back. they performed, first the did a whole day workshops for kids from all over the country. so they were doing lyrics writing and you know, you name it, they were in the red room writing and rapping in that
blue room and dancing in the yellow room. you name it! in the east room they were with all of this because it would never have got to see the broadway performance but they all knew the words. so we had fun. we had lots of fun! all of our fun always involve kids because kids are good! they just make everything better. [applause] we wanted to make sure that kids felt like this white house belonged to them. you know, they felt like when they walked into it, kids of our background felt like this was a place that kids were supposed to be. not like, peering out the front gate but they were supposed to walk in those doors and experience everything that was going on in there. and that was, i think, of all the things we did the work we were able to do with young people was the most fulfilling and hopefully, the most impactful work that we did. in those eight years. >> and they felt like, oh yeah,
i am rapping in the blue room. >> rapping in the blue room. we did a whole workshop where kids were working with designers and they were manikins, we did a workshop. and we had some of the top designers come. it was sort of a way to give a home washed all the american designers that worked with me but not to make it about me. it had to be about kids. so they all came for a day of working with all of these young designers around the world. and they were making jewelry and different rooms and they came together for a panel and they got to meet diane von furstenberg and all of these big names came and they spent the day with the kids. it was about them but it was also about fashion. i was kind of the way i tried to think about linking the stuff that people wrote about, something that was important. like, okay, you like my shoes. let's teach kids how to be designers. what the craft means in america.
[applause] that it is not just about how you look but what you do. and all of that was fun. fun, fun! >> and it leaves the kids feeling like hey, i have been to the white house peer. >> they felt like they were something special! i'm in the white house, doing this! we had a mentor program that we never really publicized. but i worked every year with a group of 20 girls from the area. because mentoring has always been a big part of my life. and barack as well. he had some young men that will come and they would come once a month.usually kids from the d.c. area. not the top kids but not the kids struggling but sort of those kids that are just in the middle. where there probably is not a lot of programming for them. and they would be paired up with a high-powered woman in the administration. and valerie jarrett was a mentor, the first female executive chef at the white house, bush appointed, she was
a mentor. they would meet with the kids all the time but they would come together once a month in the white house. and it was interesting to see the transformation when they first start, they were shy, could not look me in the eye. they were just nervous. because it was nerve-racking, you are in the white house meeting michelle obama! why were you picked? and you are wondering. but we would spend time talking and eating popcorn. we talk about everything. by the time the completed usually two years with us, by their graduation ceremony when their parents would come, they felt, there was just a shift in who they thought they were. you know, they felt comfortable in that space, in that room with me. they knew that they deserved that for themselves. and it is the process of just giving them that exposure on a regular basis. saying, you are worthy. i don't even care about your grades. who are you as a person? you are worth being talked to and listen to.
after a while they owned the place. they were taken, they did not even notice me. it's like oh yeah mom, that is michelle obama. we are old friends now. let me show you the blue room. they had a confidence. my belief for them is that if you can walk into the white house and look me in the eye and introduce yourself, there is no room you cannot go in! there is no room you cannot go into after that. [applause] >> right before we started, there was a high school student here for the first time. they were hoping to recruit her, there she is. hi honey! and of course, we hope she will be a librarian. but, any advice that you might give a highschooler? because they say i do know about college or what i want to do. any advice? >> how old are you? >> 17 peer. >> you're going to go to college, right? okay, that is a first advice.
go to college. because you need a college education in this day and age if you want to be competitive. right? but here's the thing, there are so many different ways to get an education. we live in the nine states of america. you have a wonderful community college, four-year colleges, there are so many ways to do it. there is not one right way to do this. you do not have to go to a four-year school and live in a dorm if that is not your thing. it is an excellent experience if you can do it. but you have to get an education beyond high school. that is a must! a high school diploma is not enough anymore. we want you to be the very best you can be and be able to take care of your family. and to wear nice shoes and be fly and have power and all that good stuff. having an education is the key to that. >> of course peer. >> that is my advice in a nutshell. [applause]
>> now, we do not have much time left. but i want to ask you about the book. >> i have been talking about the book. >> it is coming out in november. >> coming! are you guys ready? [cheering] >> you have to go with a few things so we can book talk it. that's what we do. >> okay i have given you a bit. a few tidbits. if i were to describe the book -- it is a re-humanization effort because you know, for me, a black woman from a working-class background. to have the opportunity to tell her story is interestingly rare. you know, i think that's why some people asked the question, how did you become here? how did you go from here to there? it is sort of like people think
i am a unicorn. it's like -- like i don't exist. like people like me don't exist. i know they are so many people in this country and the world feel like they don't exist because their stories are not told. or they think their stories are not worthy of being told. in this country we have got to the point where we kind of think there's only a handful of legitimate stories that make you a true american. and so, if you don't fall into that narrow sort of line, it's like you don't belong. but we all belong. and i think my book is the ordinariness of a very extraordinary story. and i hope that by telling it, that it makes others, not just black woman, not just black people, but other people, other women and people that feel faithless and invisible and voiceless.to feel the pride
in their story and the way i feel about mine. the ordinariness of growing up as a working-class kid with two parents had values. they did not have a lot of money. i grew up with music and art and love. and that was just about it. we were encouraged to get an education. you know, i am not a unicorn! there are millions of kids like me out there. and it is just a shame that sometimes people will see me and they will only see my color. and then they will make certain judgments about that. and that is dangerous for us to dehumanize each other in that way. [applause] we are all just people. you know? with stories to tell. [applause] we are flawed and broken and there is no miracle in our stories. we are trying to do good peer that's who this little girl in
"becoming" is. she is becoming a lot of things in life but the journey continues. and i hope that it starts a conversation about voice and it encourages so many other people because we need to know everyone's story. so that we don't forget the humanity in each other. because what we learned, barack and i over the course of eight years and traveling around the country is that americans are good people. decent people. really, even if we don't agree on politics. and we have to remember that about ourselves and understand it is true, not just here in america but around the world. there are no devils out there. there are no people out there. there are people who do bad things. but all of us are really just trying to figure it out. and if we have done something really horrible it's usually because we were broken in some way. and if we understand each other stories, and we share the stories, maybe we can be more
empathetic. maybe we can be more inclusive. maybe we can be more forgiving. and be more open. i hope that the book encourages some conversation around those kind of things. you hear about china and my shoes. a couple of nice stories, make an appearance, not to worry, they are there. they are still alive, doing well by the way. [applause] >> i just have to tell you, we are glad that you are michelle obama. [applause] >> thank you, carla. >> they are two. >> thank you all, thank you for all that you do! keep doing the work in the community, we need you! [applause] [cheering]
[applause] [cheering] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> with once again return to the theme of the economic stressed out. this is a coal mining town. with your family roots. what is the story you are telling? >> well, it is you know, a town
-- a coal town in west virginia. but people, it is right over the border. if your southwest virginia west virginia each one is -- i like making up places. people cannot write and say the story is not on the street corner you said it was. so, it was a place with a military footprint. an object was there, an enormous dome. they investigate this murder and come across an enormous dome that was sort of left over by the military from 40 years ago. and nobody knows what's inside. it is all covered. but it is still there. i like going to the small towns. seeking out the history, little by little. and showing actually has secrets nobody was really aware of. it's almost like on pilling a layer of an onion until you get to the core. i love that. i love books where writers do that and i like stories where i
turn the tap on a little and turn it off, turn it on and people sort of overtime realize, oh my god, i never saw that coming! >> are there places from world war ii that where there are banded sites that have dangerous material in them? >> all over the place. there is a lot of it that back then in the 50s and 60s, 70s, we weren't as conscious about the environment or they did not have money to clean it up. so they would say, bury it and we are out of here. people don't realize the epa did not exist until nixon created it in the 70s. there was no epa before that. and we talk about corporations, self-regulating themselves i don't think it works really. so it was just easier and more cost-effective to leave it behind. and move on and go someplace
else. obvious he that has repercussions. >> he told me that you did research work for this series books more than any others. why is that? >> it's a complicated piece. there are all these acronyms and rules of regulations and traditions. just understanding the weaponry used. i don't like to drill down too much my mom not writing a textbook but a novel. but you have to get into it a little bit. but maybe shorthand. so i wrote it like i actually served in the military. so when he talks about a weapon he pulls out the m 11. and i like to describe that but it is a firearm because that is what they carry. our particular scope that he will use or a duffel bag or the uniform and whether he has a cover on her cover off. but had to drill that into his mentality such that it wasn't
like i took a paragraph to describe. it's just life. so it didn't interfere with the story. it is really hard to do that. i never want to write a flipbook. one that is where writers do a lot of research and he doesn't want to integrate into the stories we find a spot and slaps it in there. so the reader, you read it and you flip and get back to the story. >> booktv recently visited capital how to ask members of congress what they are reading this summer. >> the things in which i deal with two of my passions. i am a history teacher so obviously history and government are important to me. and i love baseball. the first one is a drive into the gap. the short book that my kid recommended. it deals with roberto clemente and which bat in the hall of fame is the one that was he
actually had his 3000 hit with, if that is it or not. it's a good book quick read. it will be fun. and it will be entertaining. i passed by a bookstore and i need a paper back. i picked one up about dwight eisenhower. he's always been a hero and i thought he was underrated while president. and as time has gone people realize what a good job actually depend not only leaving the military but the country. this is technically about his last days when he gives the farewell address and turns power over to john kennedy. but he also goes back and does a short biography of about eisenhower. at least for the first part there are some stories i've not heard so far. it's always interesting and fascinating to me. the third book we ran across is done by benson. i picked it up because of the
author. not only was benson the only one in the cabinet he was a secretary of agriculture under eisenhower also president of my church and another reason is my former chief of staff, is his grandson. so there is personal reason i want to go through this one. i enjoyed the philosophy he has. he talks about the nation and the future of politics in the united states. i'm looking forward to that one. final, this one i really found and was recommended by my staff. it is a title where nobody knows your name. by john feinstein. the cool part about this is, it's going to be all about minor-league baseball players. and those who have made a name for themselves in the minors peers to my man gone to the majors but this is about those who labored where the pay is not good and the love of the game is magnificent.
and obviously, in my district we have two minor-league teams. one is a aaa and i have tickets for the aaa, for the bees i'm looking forward to going through the book. >> booktv wants to know what you are reading. send it to us via twitter @booktv or facebook facebook.com/booktv or twitter twitter.com/booktv. booktv on c-span2. television for serious readers. >> ...