Michelle Obama is showing her humanity in a very interesting and very clear and personal way—it’s bringing people in, putting her hands in the dirt, not being controlled every single moment, and just carrying her own head. As the Yoruba people say—carry your own head.
I admire her intelligence, and her phenomenal love for her family and powerful style. She shows that you can be brilliant and black and female and intelligent and rock style all at the same time. She’s a shining example for all women. It says to women that you don’t have to be a size 3 to be beautiful. I love that she is a lush woman, and she doesn’t hide it. She feels beautiful. And I love that the president’s arm is always on that waist. When he hugs her, he hugs us all.
—Susan L. Taylor, former editor, Essence
A Friendly Neighbor: 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
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.