Michelle Obama was right when she predicted that young girls of color would find inspiration in the recently unveiled painting of the former first lady at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
A photo of 2-year-old Parker Curry staring up at Obama’s portrait in wonder reached viral heights this week after an onlooker captured the image and shared it on Facebook.
Now the little girl’s mother is sharing insight into the heartwarming moment her daughter first saw Obama’s striking portrait by artist Amy Sherald.
“Parker was in front of the portrait, and I really wanted her to turn around so I could get a picture with her, and she genuinely, honestly would not turn around,” her mother, Jessica Curry, explained to CNN. “She was uncooperative with me because she was just so focused on the portrait and studying it, and she was just so fascinated.”
“In further discussion with (Parker) yesterday and today, I realized that she believes Michelle Obama is a queen, and she wants to be a queen as well …,” Curry added. “As a female and as a girl of color, it’s really important that I show her people who look like her that are doing amazing things and are making history so that she knows she can do it.”
Obama shared similar thoughts in a speech during last month’s unveiling of her and husband Barack Obama’s official portraits.
“I’m thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who, in years ahead, will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution,” the former first lady said at the time.
Little Parker’s appreciation for Obama is mutual.
After Sherald shared Parker’s photo on Instagram, the former first lady responded with a series of three heart-eyed, smiley-faced emojis.
The photo of Parker staring at Obama has been shared, liked, tweeted, retweeted and Instagrammed thousands of times around the world since onlooker Ben Hines of North Carolina shared the image on his Facebook page on Thursday.
Curry, who barely uses social media, says she didn’t find out about the photo until friends and family “blew up” her phone with calls and texts the following day.
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A portrait of former President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley was also unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery last month — but it seems little Parker only has eyes for the former first lady.
Her mom told The Washington Post she’s not sure if Parker knows that Michelle Obama’s husband is the former president — or that he even exists.