For those of us who call the nation’s capital our home, Mrs. Obama has become a neighbor and community activist. From Day One, she has been reaching out to the D.C. community, visiting the children from the city’s working-class and underprivileged households to tell them that her childhood was much like theirs and that through hard work and dedication to their studies, they, too, can shape their destiny. Mrs. Obama’s attention and care have made us, kids and adults alike, feel special—and this is rare, indeed, for a populace made to feel, by all branches of the federal government, like the illegitimate redheaded step-child in the family.
—Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist and CNN commentator
A-Plus: Congressman James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, House Majority Whip
21st Century Ambassador: Vishakha Desai, president, Asia Society
The Other Community Organizer: Lani Guinier, professor of law, Harvard University
Not About PR: Dorothy Height, chair and president emerita, National Council of Negro Women
Black Love Guru: Cathy Hughes, CEO, Radio One
An American Mother: Rep. John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia
Working It Out: Julianne Malveaux, president, Bennett College for Women
Carrying Her Own Head: Susan L. Taylor, former editor, Essence
Rock Star: Baratunde Thurston, editor, The Onion
Gardener in Chief: Alice Waters, restaurant owner and activist
Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.