Michelle Obama is on the cover of The New York Times Style Magazine for its current “Greats” issue, receiving “love letters” from some of the country’s best known men and women who describe how she “quietly and confidently” changed the “course of American history.”
The letters, titled “To the First Lady, With Love,” began with a note from Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, best known for her 2013 TEDx talk “We should all be feminists,” which was sampled by Beyoncé for her song “Flawless.”
Adichie writes that Obama “first appeared in the public consciousness, all common sense and mordant humor, at ease in her skin.”
“Because she said what she thought, and because she smiled only when she felt like smiling, and not constantly and vacuously, America’s cheapest caricature was cast on her: the Angry Black Woman,” Adichie continues, adding that she felt protective of FLOTUS because “she was speaking to an America often too quick to read a black woman’s confidence as arrogance, her straightforwardness as entitlement.”
Political activist and journalist Gloria Steinem also contributed her own love letter to Obama, writing “She managed to convey dignity and humor at the same time, to be a mother of two daughters and insist on regular family dinners, and to take on health issues and a national food industry addicted to unhealthy profits.”
Steinem touched on Obama’s elegance under the spotlight, saying “She has lived a public life without sacrificing her privacy and authenticity.”
Actress Rashida Jones marveled at the First Lady’s strength.
“Michelle Obama embodies the modern, American woman, and I don’t mean that in any platitudinous or vague way,” Jones writes. “Rarely can someone express their many identities at the same time while seeming authentic.”
The letters come one week after Obama slammed Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump at a New Hampshire rally for his rival, Hillary Clinton, after allegations of sexual assault against the businessman came to light.
“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women… Be clear, this is not normal,” she stated, her voice shaking with emotion throughout the 30 minute speech. “This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful.”
FLOTUS also released a documentary on CNN, titled We Will Rise, with a focus on providing education for girls around the world. Her legacy as First Lady includes her initiative Let Girls Learn, which aims to help girls around the world attend school and further their educations.