The passionate delivery, the rich emotion describing a life forged in Chicago, the strong conviction showing America the common threads in their stories.
It was a familiar yet powerful message that ironically did not come from Senator Barack Obama, but his wife Michelle during her passionate, eloquent speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Monday was her formal introduction to America and like her husband four years ago at the convention in Boston, she mesmerized the audience by telling her own story of growing up on the South Side of Chicago while advocating for her husband’s platform.
Introduced by her brother, Oregon State men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson, Obama shared her story of her father, Frasier Robinson, who worked for the city water plant and later battled multiple sclerosis (MS).
Although he would wake up an hour early just to get ready due to the effects of MS, Robinson never complained and continued to provide for the family until his death in 1991.
In her words, “My dad was our rock…our provider, our champion, our hero.”
She also spoke of her mother, Marian Robinson, who staying at home with her and her older brother and teaching them about compassion and integrity, lessons she would pass on to her own daughters, Malia and Sasha.
“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do,” she said.
The eloquent speech was intended to paint a more detailed picture of the Obama experience and she did that by not just connecting her husband, but herself to many Americans who may have only seen her from a distance.
She painted her husband as a champion of the underprivileged who introduced her to the people in Chicago that he had worked tirelessly to help. Recalling a speech he made that day, he spoke on how too often people settled for the world as it is, not as they think it should be.
“He reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves—to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be.”
The speech brought tears to the eyes of several inside the convention and for female supporters still clinging to Hillary Clinton, it broke down the barrier that Obama could not reach out to them as she had.
On the 88th anniversary of women receiving the right vote, she praised Clinton for “putting 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling so that our daughters—and sons—can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.”
It was hard not to draw parallels to her husband’s star-making speech on July 27, 2004. Then an Illinois state senator running for the Senate, Barack Obama’s keynote address to the convention became a pivotal moment in America getting to know the man who is vying to be the nation’s next president.
Now, four years later, Michelle Obama’s speech was another pivotal moment. It was a response to critics who thought the family was out of touch and not like the people whose votes they sought.
In less than 30 minutes, she erased the image that others tried to create for her and displayed her true image—a devoted and confident wife, mother and daughter of working-class roots who shares her husband’s vision of America and will work to make that a reality.
“We have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be…that is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight.”