Michelle Obama tells book tour she bidding to ‘change mindset of men’

‘You must send your daughters to school’: Michelle Obama tells book tour audience she is bidding to ‘change the mindset of men’ to boost girls’ education after her own parents helped ‘light this flame in me’

  • Michelle Obama spoke to an audience of 2,700 at the Southbank Centre tonight
  • She sat down with Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in London hall
  • Mrs Obama’s audience part of a tour to promote bestselling memoir Becoming

Michelle Obama told an audience she is bidding to ‘change the mindset of men’ to boost girls’ education when she spoke at the Southbank Centre this evening.

The former first lady sat down with Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Royal Festival Hall in London to discuss her bestselling memoir Becoming.

Mrs Obama, who has already sold more than two million copies of the book, revealed how she longs to change the mindset of men who don’t think it is a ‘good investment’ to send girls to school.

Michelle Obama told an audience she hopes to ‘change the mindset of men’ to boost girls’ education when she spoke at the Southbank Centre on Monday evening


The former first lady sat down with Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Royal Festival Hall in London to discuss her bestselling memoir Becoming

In a series of tweets posted by the Southbank Centre, she said: ‘My parents saw this flame in me. 

‘To have that flame lit in a girl means that you have to value her voice.

‘I want to change the mindset of men and of people around the world, who think that is not a good investment to send their daughters to school.’


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Mrs Obama also detailed how chapter 17 of the memoir, which details her personal journey to becoming First Lady, was the most difficult for her to write.

She said: ‘Chapter 17 was the hardest chapter to write because what happens to successful black women is that we become a caricature. 

‘We are demonised. We are angry, we are too loud, we are too everything.’

She told an audience of 2,700 people: ‘I want to change the mindset of men and of people around the world, who think that is not a good investment to send their daughters to school’

 Mrs Obama also told gave her audience an insight into her relationship with former US president Barack Obama

Throughout her conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mrs Obama also discussed how change in society ‘happens over time.’

She said: ‘Change is not a straight line if you look over the history of America. The voting rights act is not as old as I am. 

‘We mistakenly thought that Barack Obama was suddenly going to erase 100 years of history in eight years.’

Mrs Obama also told gave her audience of 2,700 an insight into her relationship with the former US president.

‘[Barack] doesn’t play games, fellas. It’s a very attractive quality,’ she said, according to Penguin Books UK.

Becoming, released last month, tells of her personal journey to becoming First Lady and her time in the White House

The interview was part of the former first lady’s lengthy book tour – Becoming: An Evening with Michelle Obama

She also told her audience that marriage is ‘just as important’ as any career. 

The mother-of-two even alluded to a ‘healthy rivalry’ between her and her husband when it came their books.

She said: ‘He’s a little jealous that I’m done. He’s very proud but his book is hanging over his head right now.

‘But, yes, we have a healthy rivalry, it’s all about love.

‘He is truly the writer, I’m more the storyteller. I want a book to read like a story for, particularly young people, to get lost in.’

She recently cancelled book tour visits to Paris and Berlin so she could attend the funeral of former president George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday


Earlier on Monday, Mrs Obama enjoyed an emotional return to a north London secondary school she credits with inspiring her to get involved in educational reform

During the event, for which 55,000 people reportedly attempted to get tickets in a second burst of ‘Obamamania’, Mrs Obama relayed a heartfelt message to women of colour.

She also recalled the controversy she caused when she touched the Queen on the back during a visit to Windsor Castle.

‘I touched her. After all those protocol lessons, I was human,’ she said. 

‘This is just how it feels to be at these high levels where people are talking protocol to protocol, that is how these big foreign exchanges are.

‘People are talking to other people and then you’re briefed and you’re told “this is going to happen and don’t stand there and don’t touch there and this is precisely what is going on”.’

But despite her worries, the former first lady said the Queen branded this royal protocol ‘rubbish’. 

Around 55,000 people are reported to have tried to get tickets for Mrs Obama’s audience

She said: ‘So I had all this protocol buzzing in my head and I was like “don’t trip down the stairs and don’t touch anybody, whatever you do” and so the Queen says “just get in, sit wherever'”and she’s telling you one thing and you’re remembering protocol and she says “Oh it’s all rubbish, just get in”.’ 

The interview was part of the former first lady’s book tour Becoming: An Evening with Michelle Obama.

Those in the audience included actor Riz Ahmed, actress Michaela Coel, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and 300 school children from secondary schools across the UK.

Mrs Obama recently cancelled book tour visits to Paris and Berlin so she could attend the funeral of former president George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday.  

Attendees have since taken to Twitter to praise Mrs Obama’s ‘wise words.’

Cheryl Moskowitz said: ‘This was a phenomenon. I was glad to be present [at the Southbank Centre].

Earlier on Monday, Mrs Obama enjoyed an emotional return to a north London secondary school she credits with inspiring her to get involved in educational reform

‘Thank you Michelle Obama for your warmth, your wise words and above all for your humanness. Phenomenal.’ 

Laura Griffiths said: ‘Great to be in the audience for Michelle Obama and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Southbank Centre this evening. 

‘A phenomenal, inspirational set of women and a brilliant event all round.’

Earlier on Monday, Mrs Obama enjoyed an emotional return to a north London secondary school she credits with inspiring her to get involved in educational reform. 

The former First Lady said she was ‘moved, touched and inspired’ by her meetings with hundreds of youngsters at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington. 

The former First Lady said she was ‘moved, touched and inspired’ by her meetings with hundreds of youngsters at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington

Mrs Obama was visiting the school as part of a publicity tour for her bestselling memoir titled Becoming

In Becoming, she detailed the profound impact her visit to the comprehensive secondary school had on her nine years ago – a time when it had 900 refugee pupils, with 55 languages spoken between them. 

Speaking today, she said: ‘Meeting the girls here and the girls at Mulberry reminded me how much courage and talent and hope there is.’

She added: ‘On a personal level I was moved and touched and inspired as I always am by the young people I meet around the world.

‘It gives me a level of focus and determination when I get to see you all up close.

Michelle Obama spoke at the event alongside executive headteacher Jo Dibb (left) and Nusrath Hassan (right)

She greeted students at the all-girls secondary school as she made her way to and from the stage

Her memoir Becoming is now the best selling book in the US of 2018 according to figures released by Penguin Random House

‘And as I said then, you remind me of me and all the fears and all the challenges that you face. 

‘You give me a sense of comfort as being First Lady wasn’t the easiest job in the world but I got strength from you so thank you all for that, thanks for giving me that.’

Mrs Obama also encouraged the pupils to practise supporting each other.

She told them: ‘We as women don’t have the luxury of tearing each other down, there are enough barriers out there.

Mrs Obama mingles with young girls from the school, which has students from many different backgrounds and nationalities

Becoming sold more than two million copies in North America within the first 15 days of release

Michelle Obama speaks to Ms Dibb (left) and Ms Hassan (right) during the Penguin Talks event

‘There are enough people out there ready to tear us down, our job is to lift each other up so we have to start practising now.

‘There is no room for mean girls and cliques and social complications that naturally come at your age. I want you to be mindful of that.’

She added: ‘That is one thing we can do better as women, we can take better care of each other.’

The relationship between Mrs Obama and the school was further heightened when a return visit in 2011 saw her invite pupils to hear her speak at Oxford University.

The former First Lady, flanked by security guards, is presented a bouquet of flowers from one pupil

Mrs Obama was joined by former pupils Winnie Mac and Letrishka Anthony from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School and Nusrath Hassan, a former pupil of Mulberry School

In her memoir, she detailed the profound impact her visit to the comprehensive secondary school had on her nine years ago

The following year, Mrs Obama invited a dozen of the schoolgirls to visit her at the White House in Washington.

Students spoke of the huge confidence boost the encounter gave them as Mrs Obama encouraged the girls to follow their dreams and to ‘stay hopeful and keep working, despite their lack of privilege’. 

Today, Mrs Obama spoke about ways diversity in the top universities can be improved, saying: ‘Part of what we have to do is expose them to the opportunities. All kids can only dream things that are known to them.

The former First Lady smiled and clapped her hands as she was welcomed onto a stage at the school

Motivational: Mrs Obama invited them to spend a day with her when she spoke at Oxford University in 2011

‘If they don’t see elite colleges, if they don’t know they exist, they don’t know what to dream of.’

Referring to the trip she took to Oxford University with 37 EGA pupils in 2011, she said: ‘This is why our visit to Oxford was so important.

‘Colleges and universities have to start doing the work reaching out to kids very young… we have to start working on that pipeline much earlier.

‘We can’t wait until we have two years out from college. We need to start talking to them early – that includes not just conversations but visits, what is it like in a dormitory, to sit in a lecture?’ 

The First Lady, a graduate of Harvard Law School, pictured hugging students at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College in 2009 is hoping to inspire another group of students with a visit to the Mulberry School in east London 

A dozen schoolgirls visited the White House in Washington after Mrs Obama invited them in 2012. One of them, Gamze Kaplin, pictured second row, far right, has described her time with the First Lady as a massive confidence booster

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