Speaking to students in the United Kingdom, First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted her struggles growing up in the South Side of Chicago.
The First Lady visited the Mulberry School for Girls in London to promote her ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative, encouraging greater public investments in education for girls.
“I’m here because when I look out at all of these young women I see myself,” she said, explaining that although she lived “an ocean away” she felt that “in so many ways, your story is my story.”
The First Lady recounted the story of how she struggled with the barriers of her social status to get an education at an elite university.
She explained how as she grew up she struggled with naysayers were “putting me in a little box” and telling her that her “dreams were too high” of getting into an elite university.
“The fact that I was a girl, and that I was black, well that certainly didn’t help things either,” she added, reminding them that when she grew up there were very few black women in society or on television who were role models.
She pointed out that she grew up in a “really small apartment” in the South Side of Chicago in “tiny rooms” with a twin bed and a small desk.
Because she had so many extended family members in the area, there “wasn’t much privacy” for study.
“I often woke up at four in the morning when the house was finally quiet just so that I could concentrate and finish my school work,” she said, adding that she spent her time “dreaming of having a space of my own.”
Out of everything, she explained, she struggled with the idea of whether she could achieve her dreams even though she wasn’t sure her parents could afford the best schools.
As she continued with a question and answer session, the First Lady pointed out that she was inspired to start her ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative after meeting so many educated young women
“It’s you … Didn’t you notice how I almost cried, I couldn’t get through my speech,” she asked. “It’s you. It’s your soul, it’s your passion, I can’t tell you how many times I interact with young girls like you in every part of the world.”