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CNN Original Series "First Ladies"; CNN Explores the Life of Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Aired 10-11:31p ET

Aired October 04, 2020 - 22:00   ET




MICHELE NORRIS, FRIEND, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: There are a few first ladies who really are milestones, cultural milestones, who help us understand what's going on in larger society.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: It took me some time doing a little dreaming to be standing right here today.

DAVID AXELROD, FMR. SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: She hadn't forgotten that journey. And the challenges that she faced.

M. OBAMA: In this great country where a girl from the south side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's the idea that you can break through that much more as possible than you might have thought. Michelle still carries that forward, every time she walks into a room.

M. OBAMA: When you've worked hard and done well. And walk through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind, you know, you reach back, and you give other folks the same chance that help you succeed.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, HARVARD: From the moment they enter into the White House, it becomes the story. But this is also a representation of Americans better selves.

M. OBAMA: That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to the stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done. So, don't let anyone ever tell you that this country isn't great that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you're little did you ever want to be the first lady?

M. OBAMA: No, I didn't. I didn't know I could be the first lady. Sometimes you can only be what you know exist in the world. And no one like me was ever the First Lady of the United States.

ROBIN WRIGHT, NARRATOR: All first ladies are thrust into the spotlight. But Michelle Obama will be scrutinized more intensely than any of her predecessors.

NORRIS: We talk about civil rights history. We talk about all of these series of firsts. This is within our lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you prepared to take the oath Senator?


VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: It took my breath away. And I thought, Oh my gosh, this is really happening.

B. OBAMA: I stand here today, humbled by the task before us.

AXELROD: The sea of humanity spread as far as the eye could see.

B. OBAMA: Mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

AXELROD: The reality of what they were about to embark on must have been very, very vivid for her at that moment.

WRIGHT: Michelle traveled farther and overcame more on her journey to the White House than any First Lady before her.

KATI MARTON, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: She knew that she was making history and that her movements would be scrutinized a 10 times 100 times more than any other First Lady.

RIGUEUR: Everything that Michelle Obama has been doing in her life has really been preparing her to walk this tightrope.

WRIGHT: Michelle was integral to Barack Obama's presidential campaign from the beginning.

M. OBAMA: So we're looking forward to the first day of school. Welcome back. I know that all the parents out here are happy to have their kids out of their house.

You can admit it, let's give a cheer for that.

WRIGHT: 15 months before the election, polls show Barack Obama trailing Hillary Clinton by double digits.

M. OBAMA: We've got two beautiful little girls, and we have a wonderful life. Nothing would have been more disruptive than a decision to run for president of the United States.

NORRIS: She knew enough about race in America about breaking barriers to know what that would mean for her that she would face constant criticism, constant scrutiny, you know, who would raise their hand enthusiastically and say Sign me up for that.

M. OBAMA: But you know, the reason why I said yes was because I am tired of being afraid.


The game of politics is to make you afraid, so that you don't think we have a chance to make something real happen. Think about that and help us.

WRIGHT: Instead schools, church halls and county fairs across Iowa, Michelle tells their story to voters month after month after month.

AXELROD: For someone who avoided politics for much of her life, she had to take a crash course and his political career was always very separate from her.

WRIGHT: Michelle has never publicly engaged in any of her husband's previous political campaigns. But she was influential behind the scenes.

AXELROD: My first meaningful exchange with Michelle was when we were filming our first ad.

B. OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama. I'm running for the United States Senate and I approve this message to say, yes, we can.

AXELROD: He turned to me and said, yes, we can. Yes, we can. Is that too corny? And he turned to Michelle, he said, Mitch, what do you think? She just kind of not corny. So right away, I saw where I stood in the pantheon of strategic advisors. But other than that, she was happy to keep her distance from all of it.

MELISSA WINTER, SENIOR ADIVSOR, FIRST LADY MICHELLE: What many people don't know she was actually the breadwinner in the family, Vice President of Community Affairs and Outreach at the University of Chicago. And that is a big job. And it is a job that she loved.

AXELROD: That all changed. Of course, when he decided to run for president.

M. OBAMA: I'd say I'm not giving up my career for my husband. I'm giving up my career, because I'm passionate about this.

AXELROD: When we started, we were pretty casual about it because Michelle was such an impressive person and we thought she's going to kill out there.

M. OBAMA: Let me tell you a little bit about Michelle Obama. I'm a South Side girl. Very simple. My parents were working class folks. What we saw in my household was hard work and sacrifice firsthand.

WINTER: She just told them her story. And her story is not that different than half the people she would meet and I like she talked about her parents and how she was raised.

M. OBAMA: My father had multiple sclerosis. But he went to work every single day. He was never late. And he never made excuses.

WINTER: And then she moved into the Barack Obama years.

M. OBAMA: Mix guy named Barack Obama who grew up in Hawaii. That's what I learned about him on paper. I thought this guy's got to be weird.

WRIGHT: Michelle knows that her husband probably seems as unorthodox to her audiences as he did to her back in 1989.

PETER SLEVIN, AUTHOR, "MICHELLE OBAMA: A LIFE": Michelle was involved in recruiting at a prominent law firm in Chicago, and across her desk comes the resume of this hot shot from Harvard who's being brought in as a summer associate. The firm asked if she will be his mentor. She meets him on the first day he shows a blade, but they really hit it off. At a certain point, Barack is interested in something more. He wants to go out on a date. She agrees.

M. OBAMA: I learned that he became a community organizer. I was impressed that this guy could have been making money, but he's working on the far south side with a bunch of churches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entrance of Barack Obama into her life really shifted where she was headed.

JARRETT: I met Mrs. Obama in the summer of 1991 when she was Michelle Robinson, and her resume was sent to me and said, you know, brilliant young lawyer exploring opportunities of public service. I gave her a job offer on the spot. And then a few days later, she said, I've got bad news. My fiancee doesn't think it's such a good idea. And I said, well, who's your fiancee and why do we care what he thinks? When I look back on it, I think they were very mature before their time. There's not a step in his career that he took without her sitting right there as well. It is a true partnership.

WRIGHT: In her memoir, becoming Michelle describes their wedding in October 1992. We stood there with our future still unwritten. Whatever was out there, we'd step into it together.

15 years later, their shared future takes a dramatic turn. Obama surges from behind to win Iowa, Michelle's months on the stump pay off. But now the couple must confront a new kind of challenge.

AXELROD: There were concerns about his security that were very real and very dark.

WRIGHT: Barack Obama is given a security detail earlier than any other presidential candidate in history.

JONES: There was a resignation in the black community that you cannot rise up without being chopped down.

NORRIS: We've seen what has happened to iconic black leaders in America.

JONES: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. King, if you come from the black community, almost every hero you read about was killed and only Michelle who saw certainly had more to lose than the rest of us in the risk he was taking could reassure people that it was worth the risk.


M. OBAMA: We need a Barack Obama presidency right now.

JARRETT: He would go in a room and she wouldn't leave the room until every single person in that room was committed. But because she was so effective, she came under attack.

M. OBAMA: Hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well. But because I think people are hungry for change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is an unfortunate statement. I don't think it came out the way she intended. In the words of Desi Arnaz, she's got some explaining to do.

JONES: Everybody knew exactly what Michelle meant. This has been a tough country to be black, to say that we're on the verge. Now maybe putting some of that behind us. She got smacked down hard for it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to make the same as that I'm having always will be proud of my county.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Conversation I didn't think we needed to have but apparently we do exist. Ladies and gentlemen, it's called the fist pound.

AXELROD: The reaction to the fist bump was ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do they even be jihadists?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One television network referred to her as Barack Obama's baby mama.

MARCIA CHATELAIN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Michelle Obama was met with every single negative stereotype about African American women magnified by a million. And I think that there were forces that felt that if they humiliated her enough, if they insulted her enough, maybe she and her entire family would just go away. But they didn't.

AXELROD: I called her in to show her what people were seeing. And I turn the sound down and just let her see herself.

M. OBAMA: In a country, in a world they took spear.

AXELROD: She got it immediately.

JARRETT: She was out on the campaign trail getting more and more passionate. And she'd been so effective that I didn't see that it was being perceived as angry.

NORRIS: The easy trope of the angry black woman, when in fact what she was displaying was passionate.

WINTER: Nobody had taken the time to flag for her sooner that she has to stop and pause and smile. Or she has to use her hand gestures in a different way.

AXELROD: She felt like she had failed and she wasn't used to failing.

JARRETT: She had a choice to make, go back home and pick up life with her children and her high power job. Or does she just try to figure it out?

WRIGHT: In her memoir, Michelle remembers the impact of that moment. This was a turnaround point. No one I realized was going to look out for me unless I pushed for it.



WRIGHT: After a year and a half on the campaign trail, Michelle prepares for her national debut.

ALEXROD: She was going to be watched by tens of millions of people and this would be their first chance to really get to know her.

M. OBAMA: And I come here, as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world.

WINTER: She practiced her stump over and over and over again.

AXELROD: And that's who she is. She prepares.

M. OBAMA: And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them. And even if you don't agree with them.

AXELROD: A favorable rate jumped 20 points overnight.

M. OBAMA: And let's stand together to elect Barack Obama, President of the United States of America. Thank you.

AXELROD: That was a real watershed event in her public life.

WRIGHT: Michelle has survived the political trial by fire and he emerges a stone.

B. OBAMA: Malia, Sasha, how do you think mom did?


WRIGHT: Boosting her husband's popularity as well as her own.

B. OBAMA: I think so too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now CNN can project 11:00 Eastern Time that Barack Obama is the next president of the United States, the first African American president in U.S. history.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST : Feels like something really big and bold has happened. Like nothing ever in our lifetimes. And we expect this to happen.

B. OBAMA: Now we're not standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years.

WRIGHT: And her memoir, Michelle describes that.

B. OBAMA: The love of our family. The love of my wife.

WRIGHT: I felt like our family got launched out of a cannon and into some strange underwater universe.

B. OBAMA: The nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama.

AXELROD: I still get thinking about what it meant. That image of this splendid African American family now the first family of the country,

NORRIS: The next day, headlines had changed has come to America. And I remember thinking at the time, people will interpret that headline in very different ways.

AXELROD: On inauguration day, everyone was celebrating. But there was in the back of everyone's mind, the fact that in the morning, we were going to come in to face a epic financial crisis, two wars and more pressures than any president had faced probably since Franklin Roosevelt. And Michelle, the God's honest truth is I don't think she knew what she was going to make the position and it took her some time to figure it out.

WRIGHT: There is, as Michelle puts it, no handbook for incoming first ladies.

MARTON: The role of the first lady is a throwback. We set up the White House as a royal court in a way. And I think for Michelle Obama, a modern woman, a career woman to suddenly be the great man's wife was an adjustment.

WRIGHT: She describes the role as a strange kind of sidecar to the presidency.

MARTON: The first lady's not a job. I mean, Hillary Clinton learn that when she turned it into a job. We don't want that that's going too far.


She said, the one that she took the greatest inspiration from was Laura Bush.

WRIGHT: After a bruising campaign, Michelle is determined to control her own message. She starts with a simple statement deeper than it first appears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you define your role as First Lady?

M. OBAMA: You know, I joke that my first job is going to be mom and chief. Because with little kids, I have to make sure that their feet are on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, she's going to be mom, and she's not shy about being the mom and chief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To sort of define her role more as first lady.

ROBIN GHIVAN, JOURNALIST, WASHINGTON POST: She was concerned about her daughters. But it was also just a very savvy way of saying, don't worry, this isn't a twofer. You know, I'm not here to make policy despite my executive experience.

RIGUEUR: If I want to play the traditional First Lady role, I can play the traditional First Lady role. But don't be fooled in a country that consistently demonizes black mothers, but women as welfare queens, black women, as drug addicts, black women as because of the decline of the black family.

A statement as simple as I'm first mom, and that's my priority is something that is profound because it's something that's been denied to black women for so long.

NORRIS: She decided that in creating her role as First Lady that she was always going to keep in mind, the young Michelle Obama.

She says in her memoir, I grew up to the sound of striving. And that's what the Southside of Chicago was one of the biggest receptacles for people who were leaving Alabama and Mississippi.

SLEVIN: Michelle is great and great uncle bought a house in the neighborhood of South Shore and invited Michelle's mother and father and of course, Michelle and Craig, who are then toddlers to move in with them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She grew up with cousins around the corner and grandparents around the corner.

SLEVIN: Her parents and grandparents were ambitious. They were smart. But there were obstacles every step of the way.

ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, 2009-2015: I grew up playing basketball with Michelle's older brother Craig. They were shaped by the community they were forged by the community. And I think she acutely felt the inequity, the inequity and resources, you know, inequity in education opportunity.

CHATELAIN: In many ways, Chicago is the place to create Michelle Obama. It's a place that is undergirded by a lot of the racial tensions and inequality that will shape her viewpoint in the world.

JONES: This is where Dr. King went and was defeated. The poverty and the racism in Chicago is so profound that even Dr. King can't move it an inch. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., CHRISTIAN MINISTER: I have never seen even in Mississippi and Alabama mob, pasta, and a paid field as I'm playing in Chicago.

JONES: Chicago is a place where politicians are corrupt and idealists go to get defeated. She grew up in the middle of all that. It had been a very long time since politics had been a source of inspiration for anybody.

WRIGHT: For many the Obamas represent the triumph of inspirational politics. But Michelle's optimism is tempered by what she calls the ugly red versus blue dynamic, which has taken over Washington.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: She goes to watch her husband give his first speech to a joint session of Congress.

B. OBAMA: Members of Congress, First Lady of the United States.

NAFTALI: She's looking over this see as she described and see whiteness and maleness. This is ceremonial. But it's more than that. It's symbolic.

B. OBAMA: Now is the time to act boldly and wisely.

NAFTALI: And she's very aware of the body language and the expressions of many Republicans the way that their arms crossed.

WRIGHT: In her memoir, Michelle recalls that Republican members of Congress looked obstinate and angry.

B. OBAMA: The American people expect us to build common ground.

WRIGHT: More than anything she adds. It seemed they just wanted Barack to fail.

B. OBAMA: Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

WRIGHT: Michelle watches as all the Republicans remain seated. But the first lady is being watched as well. The next day, she gets a lesson about life in the spotlight.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: This may have been one of the most talked about moments from last night Michelle Obama and her sleeveless dress,

NAFTALI: Style over substance. It's always unfair, but it was especially unfair for Michelle Obama, because Jackie Kennedy wasn't criticized for completely changing the look of the first lady.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With Michelle Obama showing a liking for the sleepless look even in winter bearing arms has a whole new meaning inside the beltway.

GHIVAN: People zeroed in on her arms because they were not the arms of a fragile damsel. It was white. Non-white Americans have for years looked at a white First Lady, and we're still able to say that she represented them. But I think it becomes much more challenging for some white Americans to look at a black First Lady and see themselves at her. Instead, they simply saw her as an alien.



WRIGHT: Four months into the Obama's first term, Michelle takes her first official trip abroad, accompanying her husband to London for the G20 summit.

TINA TCHEN, CHIEF OF STAFF, FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: That level of scrutiny is unlike anything you have ever experienced and will ever experience everything that's going on camera. Could at any given point become a thing.

MICHELE NORRIS, FRIEND, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: First Lady is a hugger. She hugs all kinds of people. And she's the queen and people clutch their pearls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big deal is that the queen is an almost sacred person, which is perhaps not loaning republics.

NORRIS: The Queen seemed perfectly -- I think she hugged her back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the Queen made the first move at all. I know this is a breach of White House protocol.

WRIGHT: The next day while her husband huddles with other G20 leaders, the cameras follow Michelle as she meets with their spouses.

MELISSA WINTER, SENIOR ADVISOR, FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: But she wasn't just going to go as a figurehead and just as a spouse, she actually wanted to interact with real people.

WRIGHT: And so Michelle makes a solo visit to a girl's school a few miles across London, but worlds away from Buckingham Palace.

LATRISHKA ANTHONY & WINNIE MAC, STUDENTS, ELIZABETH ANDERSON SCHOOL: Everyone had various gang around whispers in the playground. And I remember seeing snipers on the roof and thinking, OK, this is someone really important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We welcome to stage, First Lady, United States of America.

WRIGHT: Michelle writes, looking at those London girls, I almost felt myself falling backwards into my own past.

NORRIS: She said, I see myself in them. And I'm not sure that we've heard First Lady speak like that before.

WRIGHT: She grew up surrounded by a lot of people who weren't able to go as far as their talents would take them. They were placing all their hopes and their dreams and their children.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY AT HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: You have to be stronger, you have to be smarter, you have to be twice as good with half the resources. And this is something that Michelle's family, her community, her experiences really instill in her.

WRIGHT: There's a little bit of vertigo in that and being told you're going to bust through that glass ceiling or burst through that wall and take us forward.

M. OBAMA: All of you are jewels, you are precious, and you touch my heart. And it is important for the world to know that they are wonderful girls like you all over the world.

WINTER: She started reading her remarks. And then she stopped reading her remarks and she just talked.

M. OBAMA: We are counting on every single one of you to be the very best that you can be. Because the world is big and it's full of challenges and we need strong, smart, confident young women to stand up and take the reigns. We know you can do it. We love you. Thank you so much.

NORRIS: That simple statement, I see myself in them. And there's so much in that and not just saying that, but then figuring out how to act on that.

ALEX ACOSTA (ph): My name is Alex Acosta, and I'm 12 years old. And I just want to ask, what is your job as a First Lady?

M. OBAMA: What's my job? I don't know. That's a good question.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Every first lady is expected to have at least one crusade. Barbara Bush literacy, Nancy Reagan, say no to drugs.

M. OBAMA: And what can I do that is useful with this role.

WRIGHT: Michelle wants to focus on young people. But that still leaves a lot of options.

TCHEN: Mrs. Obama set some ground rules for us. One was that there's only one elected person in the building, and that's the president. And so whatever we do should be in service of his agenda. Because otherwise, why are we doing it?

NAFTALI: Michelle's crusade was to empower children and their parents to eat better.

M. OBAMA: The President and Congress are going to begin to address health care reform, nearly a third of the children in this country are either overweight or obese.

NAFTALI: They'll be less of a burden on health care if people did eat better. WRIGHT: The scope of Michelle's initiative is strategically masked by her simple opening move, which she describes as a harmless and innocent undertaking by a lady with a spade.

ELMO: Oh hi. Elmo and his friends are here with someone very, very special; the first lady Mrs. Michelle Obama.

M. OBAMA: Hi everyone. We are here digging up soil because we're about to plant a garden. Let's get up, get some shovels. Come on, let's go. Let's go.


SAM KASS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LET'S MOVE: I came to help do dinner, but also to help her develop a big health initiative. When you have one in three kids are on track to have diabetes in their lifetime like doesn't matter what we do with health care if we don't solve that side of the problem and my garden would step one, when we're doing our first planting, just kids, everybody's running around, and you could just hear our cameras clicking constantly. She just looked at me and she's like, this better work.

CAMPBELL BROWN, AMERICAN REPORTER: There they are. So pretty cute, of course, we're all in favor of healthy eating. But is this really the best way for the first lady to use her considerable influence?

M. OBAMA: Let's move. Let's move.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: -- First Lady Michelle Obama, she's out promoting her, Let's Move campaign and taking the motto to heart.

KASS: Every time we saw her jumping rope and playing football or hula hooping or all those fun things, were very strategic ways that we were working to weave in these values through our culture.

M. OBAMA: Instead of just talking about this problem and worrying and wringing our hands, it's time for us to get going and do something about this.

JONES: Helping kids get healthier that seems like a solvable problem.

NAFTALI: The United States was entering a very partisan, very polarized environment. And even something as innocuous as eating better, became politicized.

WRIGHT: Many of Michelle's actions have been symbolic. But when she openly supports the legislative agenda, the gloves come off, and the attacks ramp up.

M. OBAMA: 31 million American children participate in the federal school meals program. And many of these kids consume as many as half of their calories daily at school.

JONES: She has the audacity to say, maybe kids should eat good food. Now, this strikes me as a non-controversial thing for a mom to say.

M. OBAMA: We'll start by updating the law that sets nutrition standards for what our kids eat at school.

JONES: And yet, you would have thought she was ushering in Stalinism through the lunchroom.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Who should be making the decisions, what you eat in school, choice, and everything else? Should it be government? Or should it be the parents? It should be the parents.

NAFTALI: There are Conservatives and Republicans who always are looking for evidence that Democrats want to tell them how to live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is indeed the nanny state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not a nanny state.

NAFTALI: Some Republicans and conservatives believe that Democrats would love the federal government to be involved in all aspects of your life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's no longer father knows best or mother knows best. It's what government knows best.

WRIGHT: Despite the pushback, Michelle stays on message.

KASS: What we were doing was creating a new normal for them, where there just wasn't junk food in their schools.

WRIGHT: And 18 months after launching her garden, she enjoys her first legislative victory. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passes through the White House with bipartisan support. In December 2010, the President signs it into law.

M. OBAMA: My husband worked very hard to make sure that this bill was a priority. And I am grateful to you.

B. OBAMA: Because I would have been sleeping on the couch.

M. OBAMA: But I am thrilled to be here. We won't go into that. Does just say, got done.

WRIGHT: It's a big win but the food industry fights back, doubling spending on lobbyists to undermine the laws implementation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well now one of the First Lady's major health initiatives is in jeopardy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much says a slice of pizza qualifies as a vegetable because it has two tablespoons of tomato paste.

KASS: There is a lot of money at stake in selling people a lot of really unhealthy food. But our top priority was to take these issues and put them directly in the mainstream of our culture. That's what we did.

WRIGHT: Michelle knows how to handle the political fire that her nutrition campaign draws. But personal attacks are different.

NAFTALI: When people started to hit her, hit the family, hit him. It hurt her.

TAPPER: The more confident Michelle grows in her role, the more intense these attacks become.

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST AND SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It was part of a strategy. It was a strategy that tapped into a kind of nativism that we see to this day.



NAFTALI: In the beginning of the story, Barack Obama is the star. She's in the sidecar. But at a certain point in the presidency, something changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, Michelle Obama.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I don't think there has been a first lady in recent memory who so many people are fascinated by.

NAFTALI: What she is, who she is, her passions, they are real, at least they come across as real. And it makes her a star in her own right.

WRIGHT: Michelle embraces pop culture in a way that no other first lady has ever done before.

TCHEN: She was not a creature of D.C. She didn't consume cable news, she consumed HGTV and Ellen. She takes to TV and TV takes to her.

WRIGHT: Then two years into the first term, Michelle steps into a brave new world.

M. OBAMA: So I just press tweet, do I press this?

KATI MARTON, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: She is the first First Lady in the age of social media. And that too has transformed the landscape.

M. OBAMA: I did it.

NORRIS: I'm pretty certain that there was some consternation about the use of social media by the East Wing because it was not done. It was not in anybody's playbook.

NAFTALI: There are all kinds of people in the White House who are there to say no, don't do this. Don't take a risk. It's never been done before.

AXELROD: Fairly ran, fairly. People pay a lot of attention to what the First Lady looks like, what the first lady is wearing. And of course, what the first lady says and you can easily see how a phrase can be twisted around.

TCHEN: As a lawyer, I was one of the strong naysayers against the president and the first lady ever having a Twitter account because words matter. Every presidential statement is heavily vetted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we had a young staff who realized that social media was where a lot of the people that we were trying to reach were going.

M. OBAMA: Don't waste your time trying to connect with your kids via email. That antiquated method is as useless as Morse code. If you really want to get their attention, use symbols, look symbols.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first lady was in a sense, the guinea pig.

M. OBAMA: Can you guys do a little dougie? Oh, yeah, there we go.

NORRIS: The West Wing came to realize that there's an energy vortex over in the East Wing. That is a little bit different than they'd seen in previous administrations.

WRIGHT: After seeing Michelle's success, the West Wing follow suit.

B. OBAMA: There we go, my tweet has been posted. That's what I'm talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They realize how incredibly effective a medium social media was for getting points across.

B. OBAMA: That's gone viral.

M. OBAMA: Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

NAFTALI: Social media is apparent transparency, it's constructed. Michelle Obama understood that.

WRIGHT: Michelle now has a direct line to millions of people around the country eager to hear her message. But social media is a two way street.

B. OBAMA: Be careful what you wish for.

NORRIS: Social media allows people to say things in a public square that they normally would share with people on a lunch table. Now in so many cases, if I'm thinking it, I'm saying it, I'm going to type it out with my thumbs. And I'm going to put it out there for the whole world to read with the #just saying.

MARTON: There's so much anger and pure hate every time a public person says anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see the picture of his wife yesterday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like she's a little girl dressing up in her mama's clothes.

PETER SLEVIN, AUTHOR, "MICHELLE OBAMA: A LIFE": The trolling that happened anytime there was coverage of her was unlike anything any first lady had faced before. Michelle faced racism. There's no other way to describe it.

TCHEN: She wasn't engaging, which I think was the right thing to do.

NORRIS: She would get up really, really early in the morning, and she would work out. And she uses that as a way to find the strength to take on life's challenges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's who he's married to. What does that tell?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you even see that picture? I mean, what is that?

JONES: You could not go to a reputable website, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and look at the comments section and scroll down more than an inch and not see inward, inward, inward monkey, monkey, monkey on any article about Michelle Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Michelle Obama is trying to tell us --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then she devolves into that weird fake accent.

RIGUEUR: We're in this moment where a good portion of the American public declares that we're in a post racial America and then to be hit wave after wave after wave of just viciousness.

M. OBAMA: I'm focused on what's in front of me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got trashing lanes.

JONES: She didn't blink.

M. OBAMA: It is my responsibility to work with all Americans. And I want to stay focused on the work rather than, you know.


M. OBAMA: Other things.

NORRIS: She tried to ignore most of it, but you can't ignore all of it.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I feel strongly about the fact that Barack Obama should provide the public with a birth certificate, and he should do it soon. Look, his birth certificate.

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: The birther movement was an excellent example of where something was completely made up and then used to try to incite hate.

TRUMP: We're going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is. We're going to do --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not even a citizen in the United States and they're hiding now.

COOPER: And then one in four believe President Obama definitely or probably was not born in the United States.

JONES: It was ludicrous, but at the same time, it was in keeping with something that was growing in the country.

NAFTALI: It was more than just finding a reason to disqualify Barack Hussein Obama. He was about finding a reason to disqualify more than 10% of the American population.

WRIGHT: In her memoir, Michelle describes these attacks as crazy and mean spirited, but also dangerous.

AXELROD: I have to say that every single day it was in the back of my mind that it just takes one crazy person.

WRIGHT: She adds, what if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls?

AXELROD: This was something that Michelle lived with, in a really intense way.

WRIGHT: Donald Trump, Michelle continues, with his loud and reckless and new windows was putting my family safety at risk. And for this, I could never forgive him.

JARRETT: She understood that the consequences could be fatal for her husband, for her children, for herself.



WRIGHT: One night in the first term, Michelle has a dream. A man leads her family to the South Lawn to see some animals he has gathered for them to admire.

Michelle is apprehensive. Michelle lives day and night knowing that our family is a target for violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Officer Robinson from Secret Service calling 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Our units are reporting shots fired on 17th and Constitution Northwest.

WINTER: I think we're coming back from a trip to Hawaii somebody had shot a rifle from Constitution Avenue into one of the windows in what is known as the Yellow Oval.

WRIGHT: Seven bullets hit the White House, one smashing a window by the living room. Sasha and Michelle's mother are inside. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our units were in foot pursuit of an individual that fled from the vehicle. We're reporting a black Honda, AK-47 was found in the vehicle.

WRIGHT: The shooter proclaimed that President Obama had to be stopped.

JARRETT: I thought was they could have been out on the Truman Balcony or children played all over. She'd been assured it was safe out there.

WINTER: You know that wasn't the only incident but she put her head down and she trusted the men and women of the Secret Service to protect her children because she was not going to let undisciplined people tell her how to lead her life, ever. She was the First Lady of the United States. She was the first lady to all people in the United States whether they liked her or not.


B. OBAMA: I now have the privilege of introducing the star of the show, Michelle Obama.

WRIGHT: Michelle writes in her memo, I understood that it was better for all of us not to acknowledge the hate or dwell on the risk.

NORRIS: She threw open the doors at the White House as a place where Americans were allowed to see themselves.

M. OBAMA: Tonight's event is really just another way for us to open up the White House and once again, make it the people's house.

NAFTALI: The idea of the people's house is not new. Andrew Jackson talked about the White House is the people's house. But after 9/11, the White House became a fortress.

M. OBAMA: I have fun, be loose.

NAFTALI: And Michelle Obama calling the White House the people's house was one element of a much larger effort to move us forward.

TCHEN: Mrs. Obama said, we want to make sure that people who have perhaps previously never been to the White House, have an opportunity to do so in a meaningful way.

M. OBAMA: Just get comfortable here, right? Get comfortable with a little greatness.

DEESHA DYER, SOCIAL SECRETARY, OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: She went to bring in diverse voices, diverse bodies, diverse people, diverse genders, like everybody we just said, come on in.

M. OBAMA: If you feel like this day was special, it's because we think you all are special.

DYER: Whether there are kids that have gotten in trouble before whether it's college dropouts.

M. OBAMA: So today, I want all of you to know that you belong right here in the White House.

DYER: That's a game changer because then they could see themselves there in the future.

M. OBAMA: Remember this moment and remember that the First Lady of the United States told you that you can do anything you want to.

WRIGHT: The 2012 election is only a year away. And the president's approval rating is worryingly low. But the First Lady's popularity is soaring.

AXELROD: People responded to her. She became far more popular than the President himself.

M. OBAMA: So I get to speak first of all he stands and watches I love this. Look at me adoringly.

MARTON: One of the useful roles that she played in the White House was to keep him grounded. She was part of a very contemporary marriage, not a marriage that served one man's ego the way so many other White House marriages have.

WRIGHT: Heading towards the election, Americans are worried about the economy and unemployment and frustrated by gridlock in Washington.

NAFTALI: Re-elections are the Presidents to lose. There is a power that comes from incumbency, this hard to defeat in American history. That was not people looked at Barack Obama's chances in 2012.

WRIGHT: Michelle's popularity is now essential to his reelection campaign.

AXELROD: He genuinely viewed her as a friend who had his interests at heart and deep, deep insights. Michelle was the President's lifeline to humanity.

M. OBAMA: So many people had a hand in our success from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean.

AXELROD: She had an innate common sensical quality that helped ground these kind of lofty discussions.

M. OBAMA: Being president doesn't change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.

AXELROD: And that was enormously valuable.

M. OBAMA: Let me tell you today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago, even more than I did 23 years ago when we first met.

WRIGHT: Barack Obama comes from behind in the polls to secure a definitive victory. And a second term as President.

JARRETT: We often said that the first selection was aspirational. The second one was affirmation. WRIGHT: Watching the thousands of performers on Inauguration Day, Michelle doesn't know that one of them, a high school majorette from Chicago will drastically impact what she fights for in her second term.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First Lady Michelle Obama is returning to her hometown to attend the funeral of 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton, a bystander shot dead in a Chicago Park a week after she performed at the President's inauguration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hadiya Pendleton became the 42nd person killed this month in the President's hometown.

ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, 2009-'15: I run the Chicago Public School for seven and a half years on average. We had a child killed every two weeks due to gun violence. Hadiya just reminded me of Michelle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No mother, no father, should they have to experience this?

WINTER: Hadiya was a straight A student and she was a casualty of a stray bullet walking home from school. And Mrs. Obama knows there by the grace of God go I that could have been her at any moment at any time as a little girl on the Southside of Chicago. It affected her deeply.



UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: We thank you for our First Lady and the other officials who've come to comfort.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: A shooting on the streets of Chicago rarely sparks national outrage but a mass shooting in an elementary school does.

In April 2013, the senate votes on two gun control bills brought about by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Ninety percent of the public back the measures.

Both bills are defeated.


BARACK OBAMA, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It begs the question, who are we here to represent? So all in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: With the president's legislative efforts blocked, Michelle is tackling gun violence the way she knows best. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FMR. FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We read that story day after day, month after month, year after year in this city and around this country.


MICHELLE NORRIS, FRIEND, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST: While her husband was fighting his own battle about gun rights and trying to reduce the number of guns that fall into American hands, she used her own platform.


M. OBAMA: I'm not talking about something that's happening in a war zone halfway around the world. I am talking about what's happening in the city that we call home.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And to use her voice in a way that would lift those young people up.


M. OBAMA: And let me tell you it is hard to know what to say to a room full of teenagers who are about to bury their best friend.


ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION 2009 - 2015: Michelle understood at a very visceral, very personal level how horrific the violence was.

She couldn't solve the violence by herself, but she had to try and create some hope and some inspiration for kids and communities that were living on a daily basis with a level of fear and trauma that's untenable, it's unacceptable. It's not right.


M. OBAMA: What it takes to build strong, successful young people isn't genetics or pedigree or good luck. It's opportunity.





M. OBAMA: Oh, I love you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle has been spending time with young

people traumatized by gun violence, and they provide the motivation for her next initiative.


M. OBAMA: Every star that you have is a reminder not that just you got hurt, but that you survived.


DUNCAN: It's about creating a sense of opportunity when that opportunity is unseen.


M. OBAMA: Instead of letting those feelings defeat you, let them motivate you.


DUNCAN: She could have gone eight years and never talked about education. But there was probably no better spokesman on the planet, literally, than her for this issue. It was like a match made in heaven.



LYRICS: (...) degree, (inaudible) understand. Help me out, FLOTUS! If you want to fly jets you should go to college, reach high and cash checks, fill your head with knowledge. If you want to watch paint, don't go to college. But for everything else, you should go to college.


ERIC WALDO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, "REACH HIGHER": I never thought I would be at the White House trying to get approved a script for the First Lady to do a rap video with someone from "Saturday Night Live."

People were a little worried. Are we going to make Mrs. Obama look foolish, are people go to say that is not what a First Lady should be doing?


LYRICS & CAPTION: South Side, Chicago, we all know we had to do overtime every night to make it tomorrow --


WALDO: We get the edit back. And people in the office were like, "I don't know, is this going to be OK?"


LYRIC: Naturally it won't happen magically but you can change fantasy into reality --


WALDO: I knew something was going right when it was trending in Italian and it had like 23 million views in 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle's campaign is aimed at kids who might think that college is out of reach.


M. OBAMA: Tell us where you're going next with the hashtag ReachHigher.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: While the administration offers grants, loans and tax credits --


CROWD: (Applause)

B. OBAMA: Education is the economic issue of our time.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle's approach is more personal.


M. OBAMA: I want you all to succeed. And I want you to understand how -- how do people like me go from being kids like you to standing here as First Lady of the United States?

CROWD: (Applause)


WALDO: Mrs. Obama feels that sense of luck and that sense of privilege.


M. OBAMA: If I can do it, you can do it.


WALDO: And that's why she's spent her life and her career trying to make sure that everyone has those same opportunities that she's had.

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION (VOICE OVER): She was visceral and emotional and it stems from her own life experience.


M. OBAMA: I set my sights high. I decided I was going to Princeton.


JARRETT: She was that public school kid who had a college counselor who said you're not good enough to get into Princeton.


M. OBAMA: They told me I was never going to get into a school like Princeton. And I still hear that doubt ringing in my head.



M. OBAMA: So if there's anybody telling you that you're not college material, I want you to brush them off, prove them wrong.


DUNCAN: This was not just some issue that was important to her. This was her life story, this defined her. This was who she was.


M. OBAMA: I remember it like it was yesterday. And feeling like what am I doing here?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: In her memoir, Michelle recalls arriving at Princeton from the Southside and feeling, quote: "like a poppy seed in a bowl of rice. I'd never stood out in a crowd or a classroom because of the color of my skin."

PETER SLEVIN, AUTHOR, "MICHELLE OBAMA: A LIFE:" Princeton in 1981 was very white. It was also, until recently, entirely male.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Princeton was a wonderful but not always welcoming environment where she was viewed as someone who was probably there because of affirmative action. And was seen through somewhat suspicious eyes.

SLEVIN: When it came time for Michelle to write her senior thesis in sociology, she said that Princeton made her more aware of her blackness than anything else in her life.

And at times she felt other students saw her as a black person first and a student second.

MARCIA CHATELAIN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Her thesis was very obvious about the ways that racial exclusion shapes educational experience.

But during the 2008 campaign, it was used to fuel a narrative that Michelle Obama is racist, that she's anti-white. That she's essentially angry.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It was impenetrable, it was gibberish.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It was lugubrious. Boring. Resentful. And I'd have to add, slightly sinister.



CHATELAIN: Qualities that I think in a white potential First Lady would have been celebrated. A deep intellectual curiosity, an Ivy League education. All of these qualities were degraded.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle's response to these attacks is mirrored in the message she shares with the students. Work harder, reach higher.

But some young African Americans are being attacked by more than words.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR "360": We begin tonight with the latest in the Trayvon Martin case.



UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The investigation into the deadly police shooting --



NANCY BROWN, CNN: -- of a Ferguson unarmed teen.






UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Eric Garner's death at the hands of a New York police officer.

CAPTION: I'm minding my business, please just leave me alone.






UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: His last words I can't --



COOPER: I can't breathe.



CROWD: What do we want? Justice. When do we want? Now.


M. OBAMA: The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle doubles down on her message of hope.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: After the 2012 election, the kind of caution that really defined the Obamas during the first administration, some of that goes by the wayside.


M. OBAMA: No matter how far you rise in life, how hard you work to be a good person, a good parent, a good citizen, for some folks it will never be enough.


WRIGHT RIGUEUR: And we see a Michelle Obama that is less coy about race.


M. OBAMA: It can make you feel like your life somehow doesn't matter. And those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country.


WRIGHT RIGUEUR: You can say it would have been a massive opportunity to really say something transformative. But at the same time she's still operating within the boundaries of the White House.


CROWD: Black lives matter, black lives matter.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She's quite clear about the role of poverty and sexism and racism. But she also is not going to let anybody off the hook.

She's going to tell you, look it all, it sucks, it's bad. But you are born for more than that.


M. OBAMA: Today I want to be very clear that those feelings are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up. Not an excuse, they are not an excuse to lose hope.



UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Five, four, three, two, one.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: One month later, the spirit of "Yes, we can," that has taken the Obamas so far will be brutally challenged.




UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: At 9:05 this evening, we received a call of a shooting that had occurred at a church here on Calhoun Street.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: In the summer of 2015, a 21-year-old white man joins a bible study at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and then starts shooting.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It is unfathomable that somebody in today's society would walk into a church when people are having a prayer meeting and take their lives.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The shooter reportedly accused the all-Black congregation of taking over the country. Nine people are killed.


B. OBAMA: For too long we have been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.

Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions.


CHATELAIN: What does it mean to be proud to be the first African Americans inhabitants of the White House and know that it's linked to movements, it's linked to individuals who see that as an affront to things that are rightfully theirs.

Their progress riled up some of the worst forces in our world. It really does create, I think, this deep existential sense of our presence may lead to the absence of others.

TIM HAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The way to defeat hope is to make people angry and resentful. We're going to make you angry that these people are in the White House. And we're going to make you certain that every problem you face, every misfortune, is the fault of people like that.

NORRIS: Hatred is really just fear on a different octave.

And so, at the end of her term, she was using her voice to speak to the hatred and to speak to the fear that people had.


M. OBAMA: Here in America, we don't give in to our fears, we don't build up walls to keep people out.

Because we know that our greatness has always depended on contributions from people who were born elsewhere. But sought our good country and made it their home.


NORRIS: There was an expectation that they, in particular, would lead a conversation about race.


M. OBAMA: That is the American story.


NORRIS: There were people who felt that they just didn't do it enough.


M. OBAMA: It's the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters, two beautiful black young women, waving good bye to their father, the president of the United States.


NORRIS: They kind of talked about it all the time in subtle ways and often in ways that just kind of just went right over people's heads.


M. OBAMA: You are the living, breathing proof that the American dream endures in our time. It's you.



B. OBAMA: You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence last week but I have to give Secret Service credit. They found Michelle, brought her back. She's safe back at home now.



It's only nine more months, baby. Settle down.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The Obamas' time in the White House is coming to a close.


M. OBAMA: Last question, make it a good one.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle makes no secret of her relief.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Where are you going to work after you're done being the First Lady?

M. OBAMA: I don't know.


M. OBAMA: Going to work in my house.


WINTER: Her kids were growing up. In her opinion, it was time to go.


M. OBAMA: It's hard to believe that it has been eight years.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: In Michelle's final convention appearance she delivers a rebuke to candidate Donald Trump's attacks on her family. Sharing the mantra they used in the years in the White House.


M. OBAMA: I told you about our daughters, how we urged them to ignore those who question their father's citizenship or faith.

How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level.

No. Our motto is when they go low, we go high.


HAFTALI: For two terms, for eight years, she'd been criticized for tiny little things. Both of them bent over backwards to respect presidential norms.

And yet, in the 2016 campaign, they see somebody who doesn't care about these norms.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, 2016 ELECTION: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: One month before the election, an old video surfaces.


TRUMP: And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: She felt that she had to say something, knowing that people looked to her for inspiration.


M. OBAMA: And I can't believe that I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KATI MARTON, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: She shook off her supreme caution that she had exercised for eight years.


M. OBAMA: Too many are treating this as just another day's headline.


MARTON: She became a great First Lady because she spoke for so many.


M. OBAMA: As if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted. As if this is normal; just politics as usual.


MARTON: And I think she reached Eleanor Roosevelt territory.


M. OBAMA: But New Hampshire, yes. Be clear. This is not normal. This is not politics as usual.




UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle spends election night watching a movie. As the messages start coming in she heads off to bed.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Inaudible) CNN projects Donald Trump wins the presidency.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The day after election day was extremely difficult. And I think none of us wanted to go to work but we all picked ourselves up. And we came into the office.

And Mrs. Obama emailed the chief of staff and I at the time and said I'd like to talk to the staff.


DEESHA DYER, SOCIAL SECRETARY, OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: The First Lady brought us all together and she said I want to hear from you all. How do you feel?


WINTER: People were afraid that a lot of the work that we had poured our hearts and souls into would be unwound.


DYER: She assured us that what we did was remarkable and to go on and continue that. This house was just the beginning for some of us, but it's not the end.

The Trumps came to the White House the next day.

It was the same day that we had Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers coming too. So we didn't have much time to think until it was done.


WINTER: We celebrated those last few months at the White House. We accomplished more than we could have ever imagined with the spotlight on us no other administration had ever had.


B. OBAMA: Maybe you still can't believe we pulled this whole thing off. Let me tell you, you're not the only ones.

Michelle --

CROWD: (Applause)

B. OBAMA: You took on a role you didn't ask for. With grace and with grit and with style. And good humor.

You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody and a new generation sets it sights higher because it has you as a role model.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: She was exhausted.


DYER: We were all exhausted. I mean, the dogs were probably exhausted. It's like you're running a marathon for eight years and then all of a sudden it stops.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: On January 20th, 2017 Michelle Obama walks out of the White House for the last time.


AXELROD: One of the things that struck me, knowing her as I do, was how chilly Michelle was toward the new president. And she sent a very strong message, I thought, through her body language.


WRIGHT RIGUEUR: On inauguration day 2017 we see a Michelle Obama who has slicked back her hair and shows none of the usual care that we see in moments of political import.

It's such a clear moment. It's such a clear moment that she's over it and done.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Michelle stays out of the limelight for a time and then bursts back on to the scene.

More than any other First Lady, Michelle Obama has become a symbol of hope and possibility for millions across the United States and beyond.

NORRIS: She redefined the role of first lady on her own terms.

CHATELAIN: Her background is something that she celebrates as much as her accomplishments. And I think that is one of the reasons why she's such a unique First Lady.


M. OBAMA: Each of us has a mission in the world.

DUNCAN: She gave lots of kids around the country permission to be themselves. Walk a little taller, to think a little bit bigger, dream a little bit higher.

M. OBAMA: My story can be your story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's our greatest legacy.

M. OBAMA: Are you listening to me?

Do you hear what I'm telling you?

JONES: As greatest Michelle Obama was in the White House, she's free now. And you have not heard or seen anything yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always knew from the first time I met her she was special. She always had this inner strength and tenacity and conviction and compassion.

M. OBAMA: So don't be afraid. You hear me? Young people, don't be afraid, be determined. Lead by example with hope. Never fear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she's grown mightily. But the core essence of Michelle Robinson, who I met in 1991 is still there today.

M. OBAMA: Being your first lady had been the greatest honor of my life. And I hope I've made you proud.