Speaking in front of a crowd of 8,500 people at the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s 30th anniversary event in Denver this week, former First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about some of her less-than-pleasurable experiences as the nation’s first Black First Lady.
Obama spoke on a range of topics, from health and nutrition to education for girls, as she urged women at the jam-packed event Tuesday, June 24, to seize their power, The Denver Post reported. She was interviewed by WFCO president and CEO Lauren Casteel, who said that Obama had broken the glass ceiling by becoming the first African-American woman to fill such a role in the White House.
When asked which of the falling glass shards cut the deepest, the Princeton University alum replied, “The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut,” referring to times she was called an “ape” and when people made disparaging remarks about her backside.
“Knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color,” Obama told the audience at the Pepsi Center.
The former first lady faced a barrage of racist insults while her husband, Barack Obama, served as president. Even during the contentious 2016 election, a West Virginia mayor was forced to resign amid outrage over her Facebook comment describing Michelle Obama as an “ape in heels.” A Georgia schoolteacher also was fired after referring to the “Let’s Move” campaign founder as a “poor gorilla” who needed to “focus on getting a total makeover, (especially the hair), instead of planning vacations!”
Through it all, Michelle Obama said she can’t pretend as if the insults didn’t hurt because that let’s those doing the hurting off the hook.
“Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don’t even notice we’re cut,” she said, adding that women should own their scars. “We’re living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we’re still getting up.”
During the event, Michelle Obama also reiterated that she has no plans to run for office.