The White House will never be the same.
As Barack Obama’s presidency winds down, Americans are feeling more than a little melancholy about the first black family leaving the White House. President Obama’s soaring popularity over the last few months saw him play one of Hillary Clinton’s most powerful surrogates during the election, but the one person who enjoyed even wider adoration, both on the campaign trail and off, was First Lady Michelle Obama.
Initially wary of the scrutiny as First Lady and hesitant about raising young children in the White House, Michelle emerged as a compelling advocate for issues close to her heart, as well as a force of pop culture.
The First Lady’s ability at leveraging playful appearances in the entertainment industry to deliver her message blurred the lines between politics and pop culture, and revealed a drastically different approach to influencing the American public. And while President Obama has suggested that his work may continue on over the next four years, albeit in the capacity of a highly influential private citizen, it’s yet unclear about how outspoken Michelle intends to be.
So, part in reverence of the First Lady and part in gut-wrenching sadness at her departure from the public eye (or at least 1600 Penn. Ave), here’s a list of our favorite Michelle Obama moments from the past eight years.
1. Her electrifying Democratic National Convention speech.
Michelle’s political potential was in full force at the DNC when she spoke in support of Clinton while calling out the bigoted rhetoric endemic to this year’s election cycle. Her speech left many social media users in emotional disarray, and many called on the first lady to please run for president.
2. Her appearances on talk shows.
Michelle Obama is perhaps one of the most prolific talk show guests in recent history, next to President Obama who’s done his fair share. Her appearance on talk shows include lounging in a blanket fort with Stephen Colbert, doing Carpool Karaoke with Missy Elliott and James Corden, co-hosting The Ellen Show, and showing us the evolution of mom dancing with Jimmy Fallon.
3. “Barackoli,” her favorite vegetable.
4. “Turnip for what?”
Vegetable puns on vegetable puns.
5. Telling girls to prioritize their education over boys.
“There is no boy at this age that is cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education,” Michelle said at an event promoting girls’ education last year. “If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the president of the United States.”
6. When she and the president danced with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin.
7. Her powerful commencement speech on race at Tuskegee University.
“You might remember the on-stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a ‘terrorist fist jab.’ And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited ‘a little bit of uppity-ism.’ Another noted that I was one of my husband’s ‘cronies of color.’ Cable news once charmingly referred to me as ‘Obama’s Baby Mama,'” Michelle told the graduating class.
The world won’t always see you in those caps and gowns. They won’t know how hard you worked and how much you sacrificed to make it to this day — the countless hours you spent studying to get this diploma, the multiple jobs you worked to pay for school, the times you had to drive home and take care of your grandma, the evenings you gave up to volunteer at a food bank or organize a campus fundraiser. They don’t know that part of you. Instead they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the “help” — and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.
8. Her and President Obama’s enduring love.
There’s no greater love than the Obamas’; Lord knows we were undeserving.
9. … And the fierce, unabashed pride they take in their blackness.
10. This hug between her and President George W. Bush.
— Jeremy Art (@jeremyart) September 24, 2016
At the peak of a bitter, deeply partisan presidential race, Michelle Obama and President Bush showed us that mutual respect and friendship are sometimes more important than our political differences.
11. All the times she kept it real.
From brushing off her daughters being labelled “most influential teens” by TIME Magazine to making fun of Obama, the First Lady has never not been 100 percent with her family.