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Michelle Obama offers message of hope

On the latest stop of what she called an “improbable journey,” Michelle Obama took center stage on opening night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, giving a spirited pitch for her husband’s presidential candidacy.

On the latest stop of what she called an “improbable journey,” Michelle Obama took center stage on opening night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, giving a spirited pitch for her husband’s presidential candidacy.

As she took to the dais amid rousing applause, wearing a hugging turquoise dress, signs that read “Michelle” were hoisted and cheers filled the Pepsi Center, where the convention is being held this week in Denver.

Poised to potentially be the nation’s next first lady, Obama said she stood before the delegation as a sister, wife, mother and a daughter.

She went on to speak passionately and highly of her upbringing, describing the in-pouring of values and love her parents provided to her and her brother.

“I know firsthand…that the American Dream endures,” the Chicago South Side native told the delegations of Democrats from around the nation, who converged on the Rocky Mountain city for the quadrennial political confab.

Michelle Obama hailed from a working-class family where her father was a city employee and her mother stayed at home.

She told about how her parents pushed education and the importance of family, as well as what amounted to humanitarianism.

The Princeton and Harvard-educated mother of two daughters told about how she gave up her job at a law firm to return home to Chicago and became a public servant.

But before she would leave the law firm, she met a man whose principals mirrored her own.

Though he was raised by a single mother and lived across the country from her Midwest roots, Michelle Obama said that she and Barack share similar familial backgrounds.

In her stump for her husband, she painted a picture of a Barack Obama she hoped constituents would relate to and believe in.

“He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves,” Michelle Obama said. “Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values.”

A Harvard grad as well, Barack Obama abandoned aspirations of working on Wall Street and went to work helping families devastated by job losses due to steel mills closing, his wife explained.

Her comments spoke to recent campaign jibes by Republican presidential nominee John McCain accusing the Illinois Senator of being an elitist. Her message attempted to draw the nation closer to her husband, to reach out to the naysayers and convince them that “Barack will finally bring the change we need.”

The 15-minute speech embraced the working class, paid homage to the cultural trailblazers “whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment” and lifted up women.

Jobs, health care and better provisions for servicemen returning home after tours of duty were caveats of the Obama platform that Michelle said explains “why he’s running.”

Speaking on the opportunities available in this country and a collective desire to change the world, she affirmed her patriotism.

“That is why I love this country,” she said to thunderous applause.

She caused a stir during the primary season when she made comments about having pride in this nation.

Michelle Obama’s speech came amid a historic time: a day before the 88th anniversary of women’s suffrage and three days before her husband, on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have A Dream speech," would make history by being the first Black man to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

“I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history, knowing that my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me.”

The theme for the night was One Nation, and Michelle Obama implored voters to band together to elect Barack Obama president.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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