Treasury of letters written by African American women to Michelle Obama.
“You are me. When I look at you, I see me. I see the young African American woman who, through good family values, strong roots, hard work, and perseverance, has come into her own … Though your journey may not be easy in the coming days, weeks, months, or years, think of us to ease your burden and pain. Think of those who you inspire. Think of those who you have given hope to. Think of those whom you have filled with pride. Think of your sister … Think of your favorite cousin. Think of your mother. Think of me. We are the same.”
“To you Michelle I take off my African woman hat from Cameroon, my motherland. You have given us African women the courage and the hope to move on and up. You keep your head high and hold your husband close to your heart. Keep praying my sister, you are the best. You have lived the dream of every ebony woman. Ride on sister, we are with you.”
“You are the song, you are the proverb, and you are the symbol of human dignity.”
“When you and your family go to the spot under the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, where Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, you will take with you our history of dreams deferred; however, you will also take with you our prayers and hopes for an America that is ready to build and dream anew.”
“Thank you for your courage to say yes, to step from behind your private veil into the public eye, to step forward with the grace of boldness, to carry a message that ‘Hope is a wise decision’ and also teaching the importance of learning to prepare oneself because with hope, things can change. I sat next to my daughter, praying that all women would tell this message to themselves, their daughters and sisters, nieces and neighbors, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends and sisterfriends, strangers and mates. But most of all, I thank you from the bottom of my heart to remind me to keep being hopeful so I can keep flapping my wings and not be afraid to fly.”
“What I really want to say is thank you for existing and remaining visually the kind of woman I’ve always wanted to be. I’d given up hope. I’d given up hope that Black men could affectionately and passionately adore a woman publicly the way that your old man adores you. I’d given up hope that I’d get to keep my booty and succeed in the commercial production world of NYC. I honestly didn’t believe I’d be able to be intelligent and sexy at the same time and be taken seriously … You two have revolutionized what I believe to be possible in Black life. Black, young, sexy, beautiful, brilliant, and powerful. How marvelous.”
“We are one woman, blessed to be born Black in America … I rejoice for every little girl, every teenager, young adult and yes even every senior, who like me, can look at you and see herself. I rejoice for the mothers who loved their children as much as you and I do, yet could not protect them.”
“Thank you for making me reconsider bringing my Black babies into this world.”
Passionate, shattering, and tender, this astonishing book gathers together letters to Michelle Obama, written by African American and African women. Shortly after the election, the Uncrowned Queens Institute in Buffalo, New York, sent out a call across the country for African American women to share their hopes, fears, and advice with the new First Lady. Hundreds of letters and poems poured in, signaling both an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and a remarkable opportunity for African American women to look at the White House and see and speak to one of their own there.
These very personal letters and poems, written by African American women from all ages and walks of life, celebrate a newfound hope for our world and children, speak to a strong sisterhood with the First Lady, confess often very private fears and dreams, and acknowledge and remember the generations before who endured so much for so long.
“An impressive compendium of eloquent messages which together paint a touching tapestry reflecting the depth of sisters’ emotional investment in our new First Lady.” Kam Williams
“…the world has long heard of the power of Athenian women. But we have yet to feel and recognize the full impact that black women have had on the cultural and political life of the United States. Those past and living generations (those Uncrowned Queens) will gather mystically at this moment: through the agency of this book … black women and their men will come out of a dark tunnel and light up the heavens.” Chicken Bone Journal
Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, a native of Louisiana, is a lifelong resident of Buffalo, New York. She is a retired educator, counselor, and community and political activist. She is cofounder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc., and coauthor of the Uncrowned Queens: African American Women in Community Builders of Western New York series with Peggy Brooks-Bertram. In addition to the Uncrowned Queens, her other passion is family history research. Nevergold and her husband of forty-one years, Paul, have two children, Alanna and Kyle, and one grandchild, Naia.
Peggy Brooks-Bertram is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has lived in Buffalo, New York, since 1986. She is a scholar on the life of Drusilla Dunjee Houston. In 2007 she published a long-lost manuscript of Houston’s, Origin of Civilization from the Cushites, for which she received Honorary Mention in the Best Black Books for 2007. She is currently writing a biography on Houston. She is the mother of two children, Lillian Yvonne-Margaret, a poet and photographer, and Dennison Ivon Jean Bertram, an international photographer. Her husband Dennis Bertram is also an artist. Brooks-Bertram is also a community activist with interests in the health care of African American women.