In between wearing controversial cardigans and hugging the Queen (and from the press coverage you’d be forgiven for thinking that was all she’d been doing), Michelle Obama took time to speak to pupils at the all-girls Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school in Islington, a state school with 92% BME pupil, 20% children of refugees or asylum seekers. Whilst underreported, the papers are calling the speech a “very personal statement of her political purpose and the new role that she is still in the process of creating as the president’s wife”.
She told the girls,
“I want you to know that we have very much in common. For nothing in my life’s path would have predicted that I would be standing here as the first lady of the United States of America. There was nothing in my story that would land me here. I wasn’t raised with wealth or resources of any social standing to speak of…
“If you want to know the reason why I’m standing here, it’s because of education. I never cut class. Sorry I don’t know if anybody here is cutting class. I never did. I loved getting As. I liked being smart. I loved being on time. I loved getting my work done. I thought being smart was cooler than anything in the world.”
This Guardian article looks at the impact her words had on girls at EGA school, who are still visibly excited and starstruck by the visit, which was a complete surprise to them.
“You can relate to her story. She said, ‘I’m a working-class girl.’ And more or less all of us are working-class. She made it. And it made me think: if she can do it, so can I.”