Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady

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“You are me. When I look at you, I see me. I see the young
African American woman who, through good family values, strong roots, hard work,
and perseverance, has come into her own … Though your journey may not be easy in
the coming days, weeks, months, or years, think of us to ease your burden and
pain. Think of those who you inspire. Think of those who you have given hope to.
Think of those whom you have filled with pride. Think of your sister … Think of
your favorite cousin. Think of your mother. Think of me. We are the

“To you Michelle I take off my African woman hat from Cameroon, my
motherland. You have given us African women the courage and the hope to move on
and up. You keep your head high and hold your husband close to your heart. Keep
praying my sister, you are the best. You have lived the dream of every ebony
woman. Ride on sister, we are with you.”

“You are the song, you are the
proverb, and you are the symbol of human dignity.”

“When you and your
family go to the spot under the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, where Barack
Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, you will take
with you our history of dreams deferred; however, you will also take with you
our prayers and hopes for an America that is ready to build and dream

“Thank you for your courage to say yes, to step from behind your
private veil into the public eye, to step forward with the grace of boldness, to
carry a message that ‘Hope is a wise decision’ and also teaching the importance
of learning to prepare oneself because with hope, things can change. I sat next
to my daughter, praying that all women would tell this message to themselves,
their daughters and sisters, nieces and neighbors, mothers, grandmothers, aunts,
friends and sisterfriends, strangers and mates. But most of all, I thank you
from the bottom of my heart to remind me to keep being hopeful so I can keep
flapping my wings and not be afraid to fly.”

“What I really want to say
is thank you for existing and remaining visually the kind of woman I’ve always
wanted to be. I’d given up hope. I’d given up hope that Black men could
affectionately and passionately adore a woman publicly the way that your old man
adores you. I’d given up hope that I’d get to keep my booty and succeed in the
commercial production world of NYC. I honestly didn’t believe I’d be able to be
intelligent and sexy at the same time and be taken seriously … You two have
revolutionized what I believe to be possible in Black life. Black, young, sexy,
beautiful, brilliant, and powerful. How marvelous.”

“We are one woman,
blessed to be born Black in America … I rejoice for every little girl, every
teenager, young adult and yes even every senior, who like me, can look at you
and see herself. I rejoice for the mothers who loved their children as much as
you and I do, yet could not protect them.”

“Thank you for making me
reconsider bringing my Black babies into this world.”

shattering, and tender, this astonishing book gathers together letters to
Michelle Obama, written by African American and African women. Shortly after the
election, the Uncrowned Queens Institute in Buffalo, New York, sent out a call
across the country for African American women to share their hopes, fears, and
advice with the new First Lady. Hundreds of letters and poems poured in,
signaling both an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and a remarkable
opportunity for African American women to look at the White House and see and
speak to one of their own there.

These very personal letters and poems,
written by African American women from all ages and walks of life, celebrate a
newfound hope for our world and children, speak to a strong sisterhood with the
First Lady, confess often very private fears and dreams, and acknowledge and
remember the generations before who endured so much for so long.
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About the author

Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, a native of Louisiana, is a lifelong resident of Buffalo, New York. She is a retired educator, counselor, and community and political activist. She is cofounder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc., and coauthor of the Uncrowned Queens: African American Women in Community Builders of Western New York series with Peggy Brooks-Bertram. In addition to the Uncrowned Queens, her other passion is family history research. Nevergold and her husband of forty-one years, Paul, have two children, Alanna and Kyle, and one grandchild, Naia.

Peggy Brooks-Bertram is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has lived in Buffalo, New York, since 1986. She is a scholar on the life of Drusilla Dunjee Houston. In 2007 she published a long-lost manuscript of Houston’s, Origin of Civilization from the Cushites, for which she received Honorary Mention in the Best Black Books for 2007. She is currently writing a biography on Houston. She is the mother of two children, Lillian Yvonne-Margaret, a poet and photographer, and Dennison Ivon Jean Bertram, an international photographer. Her husband Dennis Bertram is also an artist. Brooks-Bertram is also a community activist with interests in the health care of African American women.

Barbara and Peggy are the recipients of the 2009 New York State Women of Excellence Award in Education.

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Additional Information

SUNY Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2009
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HISTORY / United States / 21st Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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