Former first lady Michelle Obama explained in detail one of the reasons she supported her husband’s run for president: She didn’t think he could win, and that life would return to normal after he’d lose.
Speaking to a crowd in London at an event promoting her book Becoming, a memoir of her life in and out of the White House, Obama elaborated on her point, explaining she supported her husband for other reasons but that it was easier to support his presidential run because she never thought America would elect Barack Obama.
“One of the reasons why I agreed to support Barack’s run for president was that deep down I was like, ‘there’s no way he’s going to win,'” Obama told her audience. “And we can just sort of get this out of the way, and I can be that supportive wife going ‘oh, honey, you tried. Um, OK, now let’s go back to our lives as usual.'”
She added that she never thought America was going to pick her husband to win the presidency based on the fact that he was an African-American candidate — and because his named bore similarities to one of America’s adversaries.
“I didn’t believe that America was ready for a black president, let alone a black president named Barack Hussein Obama,” she said.
Once her husband won and he assumed office in January 2009, Obama said it was foolish for her and the rest of the country to believe we had moved past the issue of racism in our nation.
“My grandparents’ lives were affected by Jim Crow,” Obama pointed out. “We mistakenly thought that Barack Obama was going to erase hundreds of years of history in eight years. That is ridiculous.”
Indeed, racism seemed to rear its ugly head in a more pronounced way when President Obama took office. In the first eight months of his tenure, he faced a number of death threats, as many as 30 per day, per reporting from the Guardian. At the time, that number was a 400 percent increase from his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
Despite the difficulties she and her family faced while living in the White House and the continued problems of racism that are evident in society today, Obama seemed optimistic about the potential tomorrow could bring.
“We are putting down markers, we make progress, and going backward doesn’t mean the progress wasn’t real. It just means that it’s hard,” she said.