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Michelle: 'There Were Actually Laws in America that Allowed Discrimination Against Black People Like Me'

'My husband and I are President and First Lady of the United States. And that is really the story of America...'

7:01 AM, Mar 25, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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First Lady Michelle Obama talked about America as she visited a school today in China. She talked about the American dream:

And my story isn’t unusual in America.  Some of our most famous athletes, like LeBron James, and artists, like the singer Janelle Monae, came from struggling families like mine, as do many business leaders -- like Howard Schultz.  He’s the head of a company called Starbucks, which many of you may have heard of.  When Mr. Schultz was a boy his father lost his job, leaving their family destitute.  But Mr. Schultz worked hard.  He got a scholarship to a university, and eventually built the largest coffeehouse company in the world. 

And then there’s this other guy I know who was raised by a single mother who sometimes struggled to afford food for their family.  But like me, this guy got scholarships and loans to attend universities.  He became a lawyer and a professor, and then he was a state senator and then a national senator.  And then, he became President of the United States.  This guy I’m talking about is my husband, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

These stories are the stories of so many Americans, and of America itself.  Because in America, we believe that no matter where you live or how much money your parents have, or what race or religion or ethnicity you are, if you work hard and believe in yourself, then you should have a chance to succeed.  We also believe that everyone is equal, and that we all have the right to say what we think and worship as we choose, even when others don’t like what we say or don’t always agree with what we believe.

But warned that not everything is perfect. "Now of course, living up to these ideals isn’t always easy.  And there have been times in our history where we have fallen short.  Many decades ago, there were actually laws in America that allowed discrimination against black people like me, who are a minority in the United States.  But over time, ordinary citizens decided that those laws were unfair.  So they held peaceful protests and marches.  They called on government officials to change those laws, and they voted to elect new officials who shared their views," she said.

"And slowly but surely, America changed.  We got rid of those unjust laws.  And today, just 50 years later, my husband and I are President and First Lady of the United States.  And that is really the story of America –- how over the course of our short history, through so many trials and struggles, we have become more equal, more inclusive, and more free."

Daniel Halper is online editor of The Weekly Standard and author of the forthcoming book Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.

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