November 20th, 2007
01:20 PM ET
11 years ago

Michelle Obama says America will be viewed differently with a black president

Sen. Obama and his wife, Michelle, in February 2007 when he announced his White House bid.

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina (CNN) – Michelle Obama told an audience Tuesday that electing an African-American president will challenge America to "look at itself differently.”

"Imagine our family on that inaugural platform," she said. "America will look at itself differently. The world will look at America differently. There is no other candidate who is going to do that for our country. You know that."

Obama was campaigning on behalf of her husband, Sen. Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama told the audience at the historically black South Carolina State University that she and her husband realize there are doubts among black Americans about whether an African-American can win a presidential election. But she called those fears "the bitter legacy of racism and discrimination and oppression in this country."

"We would never entered this race if we were not confident that America was ready," she said. "We're not crazy."

The Princeton and Harvard law school graduate paraphrased Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in describing her husband, saying he should be president "not because of the color of his skin, but because of the quality and consistency of his character."

"Imagine a president of the United States who actually has experience working with people on the ground," she said, referring to her husband’s background as a community organizer in Chicago. Obama said this background gives her husband the experience to confront racial disparities in income, health care and education.

"Inequality is not a burden we have to accept, it is a challenge we must overcome," she said, explaining that she herself overcame "voices of doubt and fear" about her race to now accept the challenge of possibly becoming first lady.

"I'm asking you to stop settling for the world as it is, and to help us make the world as it should be," she said.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. stan pitts p.a

    The obamas would make a great team in the white house and michelle will be an excellent first lady, i think in the lines of oprahs honesty, charm, wit charisma and kindness, the kind of healing this country needs, America is the greatest country on this earth and and will be loved, integrity restored with an obama presidency, obama 08!!!

    November 20, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Hal Lakeville MN

    Actually Michelle, America will look at itself the same if your husband is elected – as a country oppressed by an overbearing government. The only candidate that will make America look at itself differently is Ron Paul – he is the only candidate interested in reducing government and giving Americans back their freedom!

    Go Ron Go – let FREEDOM ring!

    November 20, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. stan pitts p.a

    The obamas would make a great team in the white house and michelle will be an excellent first lady, i think in the lines of oprahs honesty, charm, wit, charisma and kindness, the kind of healing this country needs, America is the greatest country on this earth and and will be loved, integrity restored with an obama presidency, obama 08!!!

    November 20, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. jean,nashua,NH

    I am sure!

    November 20, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. John New York, NY

    I'm bracing myself for all the hateful comments to be spewed out from Hillary supporters and Republicans.

    November 20, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Bravo! Well said. Too bad Hillary is unstopable.

    November 20, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    She is correct ... and it will be an improvement over the way America is viewed today by having a mentally challenged president.

    November 20, 2007 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Cathy,worcester,ma

    I wish I was there. This lady is fun watch her talk. She is really funny too.
    I believe in Michelle and Obama. To me they are power couple!

    November 20, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    After George Bush...we'd be viewed differently no matter who is elected President!

    November 20, 2007 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. E.D.

    Thinking that we must choose the lesser evil because it might have a better opportunity to win elections does say much for the education, responsability and conviction of the american voters. I believe that the right to vote is sacret. Many people have died to make sure we all can express ourselves and choose the best candidate that will not forget who they are really representing. Therefore, it should not be used in such a manipulative way. One ought to vote for the candidate that they perceive as the one that will consider doing something that will impact his or her life. NO MORE MANIPULATION OR POLLS THAT SUGGEST WHO HAS THE BEST CHANCE TO WIN AND THAT TRHE PUBLIC MUSTNOT WASTE THEIR VOTE VOTING FOR SOMEONE ELSE . If everybody was do follow this conviction, maybe the candidate elected would be much more accountable to their promises and to the people that actually allowed him/her to take that enormous responsibility to effectively run the policies that govern our lives.

    November 20, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Dean St. Louis

    Someone needs to tell Barack and Michelle Obama that it is not whether your an african american, native american or hispanic, the questions is experience. Being a state senator and then being elected the junior senator from Illinois in 2004, with most of that time looking to run for president in 2008, does not qualify him experienced enough to be electable. The American people will look for the experience card when they go to the polls in Nov.'08.

    November 20, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. sarah jean coopley

    Shouldn't it be your experience and proven leaderships skills, that cause people to want to vote for you, using the color of your skin as reason to get votes is really a shallow...Vote for me, because I am black????That is just wrong!

    November 20, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Howard Hewlett, Des Moines, IA

    She has a point. People who wouldn't vote for a person because they are African-American or a women don't vote Democrat anyways. I think that Obama has struck a cord with those who are tired of the politics of fear and are ready to be proud to be an American again. I truely hope that he can pull this off, America is in need of man like Obama.

    The trouble will be convincing others that this is the time for this man.

    November 20, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Scott, Royal Oak, MI

    as a white person, I think it would be a beautiful thing for black children to go to school and truly be taught that the sky is the limit, and they too can grow up to lead our country, just like President Obama.

    it is time for this kind of change in America

    November 20, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Biggdawg, Chicago, Illinois

    Reality check. I and my black associates who are supporting Hillary over Obama are doing so not because we have reservations about America's willingness to elect a black man. We're doing so because we believe Hillary is the better choice for America at this point.

    Now who was that who said we need to move away from the "politics of cynicism again"? Geez, Michelle. Talk about being a cynic - and a practioner of the very racial politics your husband superficially eschews at that....

    November 20, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Claudette, TX

    America isn't ready. But you'll see that in about 12 months. This is still a country biased with racism and Obama doesn't have the experience to change that fact.

    November 20, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Jackson, Morongo Valley, CA

    The world will look at America differently with a woman President too ... especially Hillary Clinton!

    November 20, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. Dave

    I think she right because we have never had one before. Secondly it will tell the children in our country that they too can succeed. They will see the greatness of our country. After 42 years since the civil rights act of 1964 we have come a long way. We will elect him not because he is black or because he inherited the presidency we will elect him because he is the right person for the job. Obama and this country makes me proud to be a young American

    November 20, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. Dan, TX

    You go girl!

    America with a new face can rebuild our relationship with the world. I want a president who doesn't think national security is more important than human rights and civil rights.

    November 20, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. Dave, Foothill Ranch, California

    The world will also look at this country differently with a female president.

    November 20, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. Concerned, Toronto Canada

    Sounds good to me. I like them, they seem like good decent folk. I wish them and America the best.

    November 20, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Boston, MA

    "the bitter legacy of racism and discrimination and oppression" Drop the chatter its getting old, if you need to mention it... Your not ready....

    November 20, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. John Karsten, Virginia Beach, VA

    I don't care what America will think. It is time. Here we are yelling to the world for more human/women rights, and all we have put into the white house is white men. I don't care if the next President is yellow, pink, black or white, as long as he/she does what they SAY they will. He has my vote! I hope the caucus will nominate him.

    November 20, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. April Wynne, Antioch, CA

    I agree that Obama would make a great president after about 8 years more experience. He should get some international experience serving on a serious committee, solve some problems abroad etc. He should also broaden his views by supporting a church that doesn't exclude other races.

    November 20, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Tara, Chicago, IL

    interesting how the obamas tell the clintons not to harp on the female factor because they don't make race a factor, yet here they are...making race a factor.

    November 20, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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