Michelle Obama interview: Gayle King exclusive talks to former first lady at Essence Festival today — live stream

Michelle Obama interview: Gayle King exclusive talks to former first lady at Essence Festival today -- live stream

Gayle King interviews Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama sat down for an interview with “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King at the Essence Festival in New Orleans Saturday night.

When Obama took the stage with King, she said that people “don’t remember how many punches we took to get” to the White House.

“For a minute there, I was an angry black woman who was emasculating her husband,” Obama recalled about the campaign. “As I got more popular, that’s when people of all sides — Democrats and Republicans — tried to take me out by the knees and the best way to do it was to focus on the one thing people were afraid of: the strength of a black woman.”

You can watch a replay of the entire interview on CBSN Sunday night, July 7, at 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET. Gayle King is co-host of “CBS This Morning,” which airs Monday to Friday at 7 a.m. ET.

“Barack and I aren’t living our best life until we’re all living our best life”

King asked if Obama is living her best life. The former first lady said “the Obama family is doing fine,” but added that for them, it’s not enough that they are just doing OK.

“Barack and I aren’t living our best life until we’re all living our best life,” she said.

She noted that Al Sharpton said the power that black people — and especially black women — have, the power of voice and story and narrative, is often underestimated.

“But I’m here to tell you, there is nothing we can’t do or change when we as a collective put our minds to it,” she said. “I feel that when I’m out there. We’re the ones we are waiting for. But that means we have to roll up our sleeves and do the work every single time.”

She said it’s not just voting for president every four years and waiting for things to be better — it’s about making life better every day.

Obama says she still believes “when they go low, we go high”

Obama said she still believes her famous saying from the 2016 campaign, “when they go low, we go high.”

“It has to be true — you know, look, that’s the one thing people ask me about, in this climate, how do you find it in yourself to go high,” she said. “And here’s the thing, going high is a long-term strategy — because the truth is, going high is about thinking about trying to really get to the real answer, because a lot of time the low answer is our immediate instinct. It’s just, I’m mad, I want to punch you in the face, but it doesn’t solve anything.”

She said she learned this from Mr. Obama, because a lot of people wanted him to “just go off.” His view was that it would feel better in the moment, but it doesn’t move the agenda.

“And if we’re thinking about what the agenda is, which is getting to a place where we all live in a country where we’re proud to pass on to our kids, going high is the only way we get there,” she said. “It’s our patience, our tolerance, it’s our belief in honesty and truth, it’s our belief in hard work. It’s not about getting somebody back, it’s not about the immediate clapback. The immediate clapback is just for your own selfish purpose right there in the moment and rarely does it solve anything.”

She said “going high” doesn’t mean ignoring the pain, but instead thinking about where you are going in the long term.

Obama advises young trailblazers to learn balance

Obama said her message to young women to succeed personally and professionally.

“What I don’t understand that we got to think you’re supposed to have it all at the same time — that’s a false set of principles, none of us gets to have it all, nor should we,” Obama said. “We don’t even raise our kids to think they should have it all, that’s called selfish, that’s called not sharing. You never get to have it all, but you remember life is a journey and through it all, finding balance. Because without balance, you will never find happiness.”

She noted that often young people “practice imbalance,” and “as a grown person,” you have to learn how to balance it.

“Resentment is a toxic emotion”

When King asked if there was anything Obama felt she needed to let go, she replied, “resentment is a toxic emotion” and she said she has learned “not to hold onto too much resentment and anger.”

“Everyone says this — forgiveness is real, forgiveness is for you and not for the other person,” she said.

Obama talks becoming empty nesters

Obama said now with Sasha Obama having graduated high school, she and Mr. Obama are empty nesters. In the past few years, not only were they parenting teenagers, but “every Saturday night, you had to worry about whether your kids are going to end up on Page Six.”

She said she and Mr. Obama are “rediscovering each other.”

“This is the beauty of finding a partner you really love and respect — because after all the highs and lows, the ups and downs we’ve been through, we have each other, which makes the journey worth it,” she said.

Obama talks raising daughters in the White House

Obama said they had to “pretend like all the craziness around them wasn’t happening” when they were raising daughters in the White House. She said they had to tell the kids “yep, yep, your dad’s president, that doesn’t have anything to do with you, just take your little butt to school.”

She said they kept having to tell them “this isn’t about you.”

But she did note the strangeness of the situation — having to have their first kiss in front of armed guards, for example. And she described what it was like when they went to friends’ houses for sleepovers.

“Imagine having Malia and Sasha come to your house for a sleepover. This is the call: It’s like, ‘Hello. OK, we’re going to need your Social Security number, we’re going to need your date of birth. There are going to be men coming to sweep your house, if you have guns and drugs, just tell them yes because they are going to find them anyway. Don’t lie, they’re not going to take them, they just need to know where they are. And, uh, thank you for having Malia and Sasha over. Oh and by the way, there is going to be a man with a gun sitting outside all night. If you let him use the bathroom, that would be nice.'”

She said she was surprised they had any friends.

Obama credits mother for helping raise daughters

Obama credited her upbringing and especially her mother, Marian Robinson, for raising down-to-earth daughters.

“We were regular folks until he gave that speech at the convention, and it was like he was shot out of a rocket and he had security, and I was, ‘What? We were just on the South Side of Chicago,'” she said.

Obama said her mother is “not impressed by anything” and that she would ask “why are all these people here?”

How to find the “North Star within”

King asked Obama about how society finds “the North Star from within” during a time of negativity. “It’s truly a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing.”

“At first, we kind of have to acknowledge what the problem is, what the hole is, what caused it,” she said. “When it comes to health, it’s why we have to begin to talk to ourselves as a community and say to ourselves, first of all, do we acknowledge there is a problem, do we acknowledge this is something we need to work on?”

“I think about my father every day”

King noted that Michelle Obama is now 55, the same age her father was when he died. Obama said she thinks of her father every day, and she described her father as having “poured everything he had into me and my brother.”

“Not a day goes by that me and my brother don’t think about the fact that he didn’t live long enough to see who he raised,” she said.

Obama said watching her father suffer and eventually die from multiple sclerosis made her realize how important health is to her.

Fathers and men out there “play an important role”

Obama said women need to figure out what the conversations they are having with their daughters – and the fathers and the men out there “play an important role.”

“My father and my brother had the greatest impact on my self-esteem because I grew up in a household with men who loved me and respected me very early on,” she said. “Who told me how beautiful I was, who treated me as an equal. So even at an early age because I had a father and a brother and the men in my life who didn’t hurt me, who took care of me, the bar for what I expected for myself was set by the men in my life.”

She said too many women are walking around “hurt and with scars” and it affects their relationships.

Obama talks challenges women face focusing on their own health

Obama said she found that after she had kids, she didn’t have time to exercise even though her husband still went to the gym every day. She said she found herself getting mad at him because he was doing what he needed to do for himself.

“For us as women, we have a hard time putting ourselves on our own priority list, let alone at the top of it,” she said. “And that’s what happens to our health as women. We are so busy giving and doing for others that we almost feel guilty to take that time out for ourselves.”

King noted “we are trained that way,” and Obama agreed and said “we have to start having a different set of conversations to un-train us.”

She said women have to start having conservations about why it is so hard for women to put themselves first.

“We are living in a world where we as women are so devalued, we have trained ourselves to think we don’t deserve it — that we don’t even deserve to take care of ourselves,” she said.

Obama talks focus on health and wellness

Health and wellness were two things Mrs. Obama focused on while at the White House. She noted that “food and diet and lifestyle is very personal,” which was part of why her efforts in that area faced so much opposition.

She said she started focusing on kids because “my hope is that sometimes as parents, we do for our kids what we can’t find to do for ourselves.”

Starting with young people was a way to “ease into the conversation.” But it’s a “challenge we all face,” she said.

“We all have the ability to own our health,” she said.

Qualities that make a good president

King asked what qualities Obama would like to see in the next president. Obama said, “I talked about this in the last campaign but nobody listened.”

“It’s a hard job, y’all,” Obama said. “This isn’t a joke, this isn’t a game — the leader of the free world with a tweet can start a war, can crush an economy, can change the future of our children.”

Obama said the job requires “deep seriousness and focus” and it requires someone who understands history and “having facts, operating with a clear base of facts and ideas”

“Someone who is careful with their words, somebody is who is trustworthy, someone who is loyal and honest,” she said.”

Obama said it isn’t complicated, but some people in politics treat it like “it’s a game.”

“I fear at times Barack made it look easy — I guess it’s kind of like if the black guy can do it, anybody can do it … and that’s not true. It’s a hard job,” Obama said.

Obamas will support whoever wins the Democratic primary

King mentioned that some of the Democratic candidates for president were at the Essence Festival earlier. Obama said she and her husband are not getting involved until after the primary.

“It’s very early,” Obama said. “It is like trying to figure out who is going win the World Series after the first seven games.”

Obama said the general election is “so important” and they have to make sure everyone in the party comes together to support the nominee.

“We’re watching everyone, we’re supportive of everyone,” Obama said. “We are giving advice to whomever seeks it.”

When King asked if Obama had any thoughts about the dust-up between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, she said, “I do not.”

Obama discusses marriage

In her memoir, “Becoming,” Obama revealed that she and Mr. Obama went to marriage counseling, something she said was important. She said people see their relationship now as “hashtag relationship goals,” but she wanted to let people know about the difficult times.

“Marriage is all nice and cute but then kids show up and they take up all the oxygen in the land,” Obama said. “That’s why they make the babies cute because you would leave them at the post office.”

But, she noted, that’s when marriage got stressful because “you talk about this equality thing going on” until the babies came along.

She said above all else, it is important for people to marry their equals.

“My husband is my teammate and if we are going to win this game together, he has to be strong and he has to be ok with me being strong,” Obama said.

Obama said along those lines, she doesn’t want a “weak player” on her team because “it feels easy.” “Be cautious of the man or woman who wants an easy person on their team,” she said.

As King noted, Mrs. Obama has said “Barack Obama has never disappointed me in the things that matter.” Obama agreed and said “those are the things you fall back on — it’s the basic core.”

Obama says Barack Obama was late on his first day

As in her book, Obama described when she met her future husband. She said she had heard rumors about him through the law firm where they worked, but she had a picture of him being a “nerd.” But then she talked to him on the phone, and “that voice didn’t go with the picture of the little nerd I had in my head.”

But then Mr. Obama was late on his first day at the law firm. “Then he was late and I was like, ‘trifling black man coming late on the first day.'”

She noted that he didn’t even seem “pressed” that he was late, but rather had that “slow Hawaii walk.”

Obama describes the night before Trump’s inauguration

Obama described the night before the “other Inauguration Day” – President Trump’s. She described it as a “very emotional” time.

She noted that the White House had really been the home where her children had grown up — Malia was in fifth grade and Sasha was in second grade when they arrived in 2009.

“The truth is on that day, I was moving my children out of the only house they had really grown up in – and I think that gets lost on people,” Obama said.

Obama said her daughters wanted to have a sleepover, and she said they were rushing their daughter’s friends out of the house in addition to getting ready to leave. She said she told them “you can have a sleepover but you have to get up and get out of this house.”

“So anyway, the girls didn’t get up, I’m like get up and get out of here, and they’re all crying and they have their teddy bears and they’re moving slow and I’m like, you’ve got to get up and get out of this house. And I don’t know where these kids are going, but they had to get up and out of that house. So you’ve got tears and I’m pushing people out of freight elevator and my kids are crying — I don’t know where they going — all of that was happening and the staff was crying.”

“And then we had to meet the Trumps, the Trumps show up,” she said. “And I didn’t want to go out and greet them with tears in my eyes because people would think I was crying for other reasons.

She noted that when she looked out into the crowd, it was not reflective of a diverse country.

“All I had to do for 8 years, watching my husband get raked over the coals, feel like we had to do everything perfectly, no scandal,” she said. “It was a lot emotionally that when I got on that plane, it was a release.”

Obama said she knew she wouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt

Obama said she knew before she got to the White House that she wouldn’t get the same benefit of the doubt as other first ladies before her.

“I would have to earn my grace and I knew I would have to quickly define myself and I want all young girls out there to know — we all struggle with that, people of color, working class folks, women of color — people try to define us in a negative way before we get a chance to get out there and tell our own stories,” Obama said.

“They don’t remember how many punches we took to get there”

“They don’t remember how many punches we took to get there,” Michelle Obama says

Obama said that despite the way people now look at her and President Obama, and being the first lady, “They don’t remember how many punches we took to get there.”

“For a minute there, I was an angry black woman who was emasculating her husband,” Obama recalled about the campaign. “As I got more popular, that’s when people of all sides — Democrats and Republicans — tried to take me out by the knees and the best way to do it was to focus on the one thing people were afraid of: the strength of a black woman.”

“People are really hungry for stories”

Obama said one thing she has learned on her book tour throughout the world for “Becoming” is that “people are really hungry for stories and stories about people who look and feel like them.”

She said everywhere she went, people found something relatable in her book. She said she had to sit with the fact of how rare it is that a black woman gets the opportunity to tell her own story in a way that is going to be read by millions.

“I miss us too”

King welcomed Obama to the stage saying “do you have any idea how much you are missed?”

“I miss us too,” the former first lady replied.

Festival host calls King and Obama an “inspiration to me”

Essence Festival Main Stage host Loni Love said seeing King interview Obama is especially meaningful.

“This is a full circle moment for me,” the comedian told CBS News. “Both Michelle Obama and Gayle King have been an inspiration to me and many others.”

5 Democratic candidates speak at Essence Festival

Five 2020 Democratic candidates — Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren — spoke earlier Saturday at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

Harris unveiled a plan to increase black homeownership and Warren released a plan focused on narrowing the wage gap for minority women.

Obama spoke to King in November 2018

Michelle Obama spoke with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” in November 2018 and described her experience on the campaign trail with her husband as being “probably one of the hardest [chapters] for me to write.”

“Because it goes over a painful time in the campaign when I thought I was doing great telling my story, sharing it honestly. But my whole persona was distorted,” she told King.

Regardless of criticisms, Obama said being honest about her life has provided her with a sense of worth and belonging. “I am good enough to be the first lady. I do love my country,” Obama said.

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