Well, it’s been a rather extraordinary 100 days, and I never imagined that she would plant a garden and talk about the issue of food in relationship to hunger by presenting herself in a soup kitchen, and in relation to agriculture by making a garden and bringing schoolchildren into that experience. It’s striking—and a message of nourishment and stewardship and care that has resonated around the earth.
And it’s just the extension of her caring for children in America—her caring, her taking something that’s a universal idea and communicating it with honesty and integrity. And that’s what we have been looking for—somebody who is so believable because she is so unguarded. It’s the way she is. And so she can take this message and express it in a way that very few other people can. It makes me think of Eleanor Roosevelt.
—Alice Waters, restaurant owner and activist
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
Carrying Her Own Head: Susan L. Taylor, former editor, Essence
Rock Star: Baratunde Thurston, editor, The Onion
Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.