‘Loud and persistent’

Michelle Obama inspires during Indianapolis visit


Abbagail Speitel, Co-editor-in-chief

On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, more than 12,000 people attended A Modern Conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama. The event took place at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis and was hosted by the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana.

Before the program began DJ Gabby Love provided music that was predominantly female written and sung songs. The music set the tone for what was to follow, which included an upbeat and informational talk about women and their success among their communities.

The program was hosted by Women’s Fund of Central Indiana and was sponsored by Cindy Simon Skjodt, Derica Rice, Robin Nelson-Rice and Deborah Joy Simon. Both the primary sponsor Cindy Simon Skjodt and former WNBA player and four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Tamika Catching introduced moderator Alecia Decoudreaux and former first lady Michelle Obama.

The eager and excited Catching represented her foundation Catch The Stars which is a non-profit organization that aids in the empowerment of 7-18-year-olds and promotes fitness, literacy and youth development. Catching’s foundation also has provided scholarships for over 100 females.

Catch The Stars is only one of the multiple organizations that Women’s Fund supports. A few of the organizations and foundations are Project Home Indy, Glam, Girls INC, Dress For Success, Coburn Place Safe Haven and more. All these organizations have in common is that they are providing opportunities to women, children and those who need assistance.

After Michelle Obama and Alecia Decoudreaux took their seats and the audience settled down a conversation began. The talking point varied from Michelle Obama’s life to different ways females can become involved with social matters that affect them.

Decoudreaux began the discussion by acknowledging all four of the movements Michelle Obama led while First Lady of the United States. The Harvard graduate Michelle Obama led more task forces than any other first lady. Her four movements were Lets Move, Joining Forces, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn.

Decoudreaux transitioned from Michelle Obama’s achievements while in the White House to how she came to be so successful. Obama began explaining that support led to her success.

“You don’t get anywhere in life without anyone holding you up,” Obama said. She went on to describe how close her, her family, neighbors, and community were. Their community on the south side of Chicago was so close-knit that Michelle Obama grew up with role models all around her. She described it as a “neighborhood of mothers.” All of which would use their intuition to know when to step in and help the community. Even during Michelle Obama’s time in the White House her mother often kept her grounded with her support.

Decoudreaux then began a discussion on fear, more specifically the fear that minorities struggle within their lives. Michelle Obama addressed the topic by stating, “any women who has been successful has grown up with doubts.” She also talked about how people of color will go thru life asking themselves “what did I do wrong,” simply because society had already labeled them.

“Practice achieving people’s low expectations for you,” Michelle Obama said. She simply explained why white men get so much higher on the totem pole is because “no one told them they can’t.”

When asked about women becoming involved in politics and government, Michelle Obama suggested that they give it a go as long as they are prepared to face challenges, work with people and live a difficult life.

“We need people with perspective with problems that need to be solved,” former first lady Michelle Obama said.

There are a couple opportunities for women and men to become more involved. The most popular way for citizens to become involved in voting. Another opportunity people have, but often don’t know about is working in campaigns.

Michelle Obama touched on the topic of mental health and how if we begin helping our military for mental illness that the rest of the nation will follow the progressive movement.

“If we destigmatize the mental health in military it could spread,” Michelle Obama said. Obama talked about moving forward as a nation in order to help our mentally ill citizens get the help they deserve.

Decoudreaux began asking about Michelle Obama’s life during her husband, the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Michelle Obama talked about how it was a necessity for her to set boundaries during the campaign in order to manage her work and personal life.

“People started to respect those boundaries,” Michelle Obama said. After she described her experience with her time in the White House, Michelle Obama advocated that women have the ability to bring value to their communities.

“We are socialized to put ourselves in third or fourth or last on the list,” Michelle Obama said. Women have the capability to make a change as long as women begin putting themselves higher up on the list in order to be heard.

After the speech, there was a loud standing ovation for the former first lady, and conversation began all around the stadium.