Thousands of fans turned out for Michelle Obama’s first book tour stop at Chicago’s United Center — 14,000, to be specific.
The tour for Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” began a few miles from her childhood home in Chicago and will carry her around the country and across the Atlantic in the coming weeks. After a highlight reel, a polished biopic, a video of people telling the camera what they are becoming and the same from a handful of handpicked audience members, Obama strolled on stage to thunderous cheers.
Here are seven takeaways from the first stop on Obama’s book tour.
At Barack Obama’s two inaugural ceremonies, she saw diversity and “a representation of America.” She saw something else at the inauguration of Trump. “When I sat on that stage, I saw sameness. That was the first time it struck me that this is going to be different. And then I listened to the speech and I said, ‘This is going to be really different.’ And my heart sunk.”
Once Trump was sworn in, the Obamas boarded a Marine helicopter, and she was tempted to look over her shoulder and say, “Bye, Felicia.” (She didn’t.) She sobbed in her husband’s embrace for what felt like 30 minutes.
“I think it was just the release of eight years of trying to do everything perfectly,” Obama said.
The Obamas went to couples therapy. “My hope was that we’d go to counseling and the counselor would look at him and say, ‘Fix yourself,’” she said, triggering a wave of knowing laughs.
“What I learned about myself was it’s not my partner’s job to make me happy, we have to make each other happy.”
Obama said the timing wouldn't have been right for a memoir while she was in the White House. She didn't want the attention to her personal thoughts and the country had bigger things to worry about. Now she's ready. "This book is me, fully," she said. "I'm still a box-checking, A student and if a memoir is about truth, then I'm telling it."
Obama often rehearsed for White House events with her staff. "They’d give me a chance to have my bubble moments. We’d practice answers and then I’d be able to say what I would really want to say. My communications director would be like, ‘No. No, we shouldn’t say that,’ "
“We’re fighting over stuff, and dividing each other up, over things that don’t matter,” Obama said, urging her audience to share their stories and to listen to others. “I pray that we seek that empathy in each other.”
Seeing Obama striding into a room, commanding a stage or drawing a laugh on late-night television, outsiders often assume that she has always been self-confident. But she often speaks of her insecurities and her sense that, as she puts it, "I'm not supposed to be here."
Winfrey asked, "Have you finally answered that nagging voice of, 'Am I good enough?' "
Obama answered simply. “Yeah,” she said. “Yeah.”