I don’t think Obama’s perfect, so I’ll give him an A-minus. But, the first lady, Lord, well she’s A-plus. No question about it. I think she’s just a tremendous combination of style and substance that you rarely see. I just think that she has balanced that out so well. Most first ladies sort of tilt one way or the other, but she, I think, is more Eleanor Roosevelt than anybody that I’ve seen.
—Congressman James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, House Majority Whip
A Friendly Neighbor: Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist and CNN commentator
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.