NEW YORK – Michelle Obama’s next graduation for her memoir, Becoming, will focus on college students.
The former first lady will perform with “black” actor Yara Shahidi on Tuesday at 1pm for a livestream conversation with students from 22 schools across the country, from Cal Poly Pomona to Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland, from where from Obama and Shahidi will speak.
BET plans to televise the event at a later date to be determined.
“I can’t wait to hear from students from all over our country who are coping with their studies and their lives in this unprecedented time,” Obama said in a statement on Monday.
“As a first generation college student, I remember my own struggles managing classes and figuring out my place on campus – and I can’t even imagine how much harder it is during a pandemic when it feels like that much it’s always in the air. I just hope they realize that moments of self-doubt and fear are completely natural, but when we embrace those moments – when we own our stories and use our voices – we can share the very best parts of ourselves with the world. “
Along with the November 9th event, Crown will donate 100 copies to each of the 12 schools in the Maryland Community College Consortium.
“We know the book has had a huge impact on young people, especially young women, and has become something of a touchstone,” said Drake.
Obama’s book, published in 2018, has sold nearly 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and Crown President David Drake continues to sell more than 2,000 copies a week. Most political memoirs, including those of presidents or first ladies, are forgotten after they are first published. But Obama’s book was distributed everywhere, from Ohio State University to Fresno City College, in courses ranging from composition to studies on black women.
Julie Gallagher, Associate Professor of History at Penn State Brandywine, included the book in her course on Civil Rights in Modern Times. She found that civil rights narratives often focus on the south, but Obama grew up in Chicago, telling the story of a northern state. And Gallagher found Obama’s memoir an invaluable contrast to the way black women are often portrayed in the media.
“Here is this woman who comes from a very strong, loving family,” she said. “This is a story of love, determination, courage, community, of several generations working to make the American dream come true.”
In 2020, the University of California, Irvine, added Becoming to its Great Big Read for students, faculty and staff. Marguerite Bonous-Hammarth, deputy vice chancellor of the School for Equal Opportunities, Diversity and Inclusion, told The Associated Press that the topics discussed were “self-identity, patriotism, relationships between important others and families, and questioning roles and finding ways to circumvent the Incidents and effects of discrimination in society. “
Earlier this year, Crown released an issue for young readers 10 years and older that Obama will promote when it appears at the National Council of Teachers of English Congress on November 18. She will deliver the keynote address and speak with Vice President of NCTE, Valerie Kinloch, the first female dean of a black woman at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education.