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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.

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