Go, Tell Michelle


One of my coworkers, a 62-years-young sista from Jersey, is keeping me hip. She buys a book @ Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem almost every week -- calls it "paying rent" -- and gets to hear a remarkable list of authors tell it in their own words. This week, Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram on Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady. They sent out an online call for letters to the First Lady, and decided to publish them in a book. I copped one and was promptly brought to tears reading a letter by poet/writer Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, titled My Great-Great-Grandmother Talks to Michelle Obama:

     "Don't ever tell somebody they ain't got ta call you by your title, Baby. You humble, I know. Your beginnins is like so many women's and you wanna stay grounded and all that. Mmmhmmm. I understand and I think that's real good a you, but I'm a tell you something: you ain't just you. Nah-uh. You alla us. You you, sure. Daughter of Fraser Robinson and Marion Shields Robinson. Harvard and Princeton graduate. And you sho' do make us right proud. But you know, you dat woman with bleedin' hands workin' double shifts in the factory, and dat Mama ain't seen her kids since the drugs got hol' of her and messed up her mind...So when they call you First Lady you think about me and all them women ain't getting a sliver of light. You turn right nice and you answer. Baby, you answer for each and every one of us 'cause for the first time in the history of this here country we gonna be called by our true name."

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