tv First Ladies Speeches CSPAN April 23, 2022 2:45pm-3:50pm EDT
around and measure suits to make sure that they conformed with the rule requiring suits to be no more than six inches above a woman's knee. you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website cspan.org/history. and welcome to this program titled in her own words. this is a program brought to you by flare which stands for the first ladies association for research and education. my name is myra gooden. i'm president of flair and i am so happy that you joined us for this very interesting. look at four different first ladies and some of their rhetorical responses. um before we begin this afternoon, i'd like to thank floyd flares inaugural institution lifetime members american university rider university the white house
historical association, the massachusetts historical society and our newest inaugural lifetime institutional member the gerald r ford presidential foundation. we're glad to have you with us. in the interests of time. i'd like to take this next few minutes to introduce the four people who will be part of the afternoon's program. we're going to be starting with nancy keegan smith. nancy is former director of the presidential materials division at the national archives and records administration. she has written lectured and published on first ladies. since the 1980s including lady bird johnson michelle obama and the records of modern first ladies a founding member and inaugural lifetime member of flair. she serves as our vice president. dr. diana carlin is professor emerita of communication at
saint louis university and a retired professor of communication studies at the university of kansas. she has researched and taught about first ladies for 30 years and has written chapters on martha, washington lady bird johnson, barbara bush hillary clinton and michelle obama. diana is also a founding member and an inaugural lifetime member of flair and she serves the organization as our treasurer. dr. ann mattina is professor and chair of communication at stonehill college her research focuses on american women's public activism spanning from the early 19th century to the current day. in addition to conference presentations on first ladies. she has published several rhetorical studies of hillary rodham clinton. and is an inaugural lifetime member of flare.
and finally, but certainly not least dr. tammy v hill tammy is associate professor of communication and the senior associate dean of the college of communication at boston university. dr. viejo's books include moms in chief the rhetoric of republican motherhood and the spouses of presidential nominees 1992 through 2016, melania and michelle first ladies in a new era and connecting with constituents identification building and blocking in the contemporary national convention addresses. tammy is also an inaugural lifetime member of flair. it's my pleasure at this moment to turn the program over to nancy keegan smith. nancy you're muted it's a
pleasure to be here today and to welcome all of our people and i think we have a very interesting program lined up recent first ladies and their speeches have often tackled issues as leaders of society ladybird johnson said that while the job had no assign duties a podium is there she chooses to use it from the very rich holdings of the presidential libraries of the national archives and records administration on first ladies. we will hear four keyments of speeches by barbara bush hillary clinton laura bush and michelle obama, which had a powerful impact after watching these our panel of experts will analyze and discuss them. we can go to the next slide on mrs. bush.
mrs. purchase humor and attitude toward what is important in life are clearly shown in a speech. she made at wellesley college on june 1st 1990. she had not been the first choice and her selection caused controversy on the campus. let's see and hear some of her speech. and diana now, i know your first choice today was alice walker. guess how i know. known for the color purple instead. you got me known for the color of my hair and as you said off from wellesley, i hope that many of you will consider.
making three very special choices the first is to believe in something larger than yourself to get involved in some of the big ideas of our time i chose literacy because i honestly believe that if more people could read write and comprehend we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems that plague our nation and our society. early on i made another choice, which i hope you'll make as well whether you're talking about education career or service. you're talking about life and life really must have joy. it's supposed to be fun. one of the reasons. i made the most important decision of my life to marry george bush is because he made me laugh. it's true. sometimes we laugh through our tears, but that shared laughter has been one of our strongest bonds. find the joy in life because his
ferris bueller said on his day off. life moves pretty fast and you don't stop and look around once a while you're gonna miss it. i'm not gonna tell george you clap more. paris and your clap for george the third choice that must not be missed is to cherish your human connections your relationships with family and friends. for several years you've had impressed upon you the importance to your career dedication and hard work. and of course, that's true but as important as your obligations as a doctor a lawyer a business leader will be you are a human being first and those human
connections with spouses with children with friends or the most important investment you will ever make from that powerful speech we will go to mrs. clinton mrs. clinton was clearly a first lady with many different public roles one of which was to use her platformist first lady to push strongly throughout the world for equal rights for women. let's hear some of her there is one message that echoes forth from this conference. let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights rights once and for all and among those rights are the right to speak
freely and the right to be heard women must enjoy the rights to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want. freedom and democracy to thrive and endure it is indefensible that many women in non-governmental organizations who wish to participate in this conference have not been able to attend or have been prohibited from fully taking part. let me be clear. freedom means the right of people to assemble organize and debate openly it means respecting the views of those who may disagree with the views of their governments. it means not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them mistreating them or denying them their freedom or
dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions. just like mrs. johnson mrs. bush's early role was defined by an unexpected national tragedy 9/11 on november 17th. 2001 laura bush made history while advocating for a worldwide effort to focus on the brutal treatment of afghan women and children by the town van machine during the weekly presidential radio address, mrs. bush was the first first lady to deliver the address in its entirely good morning. i'm laura bush and i'm delivering this week's radio address to kickoff a worldwide effort to focus on the brutality
against women and children by the al-qaeda terrorist network and the regime its supports in afghanistan the taliban. that regime is now in retreat across much of the country and the people of afghanistan especially women are rejoicing afghan women know through hard experience what the rest of the world is discovering the brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorist. long before the current war began the taliban and its terrorist allies were making the lives of children and women in afghanistan miserable 70% of the afghan people are malnourished one in every four children won't live past the age of five because health care is not available. in may of 2013 mr. obama in her speech to bowie state university students challenges them in a
way only misses obama can do to make education a priority and to set an example for those who will follow them. when it comes to getting an education. too many of our young people. just can be bothered. today instead of walking miles every day to school. they're sitting on couches for hours playing video games watching tv. instead of dream and of being a teacher or lawyer business leader, they're fantasized and about being a baller or rapper. right now right now one in three african american students are dropping out of high school. only one in five african americans between the ages of 25 and 29 has gotten a college degree. one in five but let's be very
clear today getting an education is as important if not more important than it was back when this university was founded. as my husband stand up and reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white. reject that in short be an example of excellence for the next generation and do everything you can to help them understand the power and purpose of a good education. we have now heard four segments were first ladies have effectively used their podium on subjects as different as a role of a woman in society on the taliban on human rights and on
the importance of education, i would now like to turn over the panel to my good friend and colleague diana carlin to start the discussion and analysis of these and other first lady speeches. thank you, nancy. and ann and tammy are joining me here. we're going to run this more or less like a panel. so you'll see all three of us as nancy said we're just going to take the speeches in order and also we'll probably throw in some examples of some other women if it fits that particular speech and i would say please put your questions. there's an email address to send the questions to and you don't have to ask just about these first ladies these four if you have questions about any others, please do that also as nancy said when she started barbara bush's speech was mired in controversy. alice walker was the choice of the class and when she turned them down the administration decided on their own to invite barbara bush. i did a lot of research on this
speech. it's a bush library and among the many papers. i found related to it where the scheduling papers where they had originally decided. you know, they just put this invitation in as if it were any other commencement address they weren't aware of what had happened to get barber the invitation and at one point they weren't even sure they were going to include it because the gorbachevs were going to be in town and she had another commitment in boston to go dedicate something the watch out for the ducklings at a park. so then they decided to do it and when they worked on this speech they worked on it at along with all of our other commencement addresses. so it wasn't that much different from our other commencement addresses one thing nancy didn't mention was this speech was one of the top third speeches of the 20th century as was hillary clinton's beijing speech george hw bush did not have a speech in the top 100 that barbara did so
to kind of kick this off, you know commencement speeches aren't usually very memorable. and don't capture first ladies give tons of these they don't capture a whole lot of attention except for the city where they happened and this one got worldwide attention. not just because the controversy but also because of the message and to kind of put this in a little more context. she was the last of the world war two generation first ladies, then we got to the baby boomers with hillary clinton, and she was really dealing with some general issues. so tammy and ann, i don't know which he wants to start first. why do you think this captured the attention of these women after they were not really excited about having somebody who they believed had simply gotten where she was because of who she married um, go ahead kim if you'd like to start. sure, no problem. so i think there are a couple of things about this speech that make it worthwhile and well,
they're a bunch of things that make it worthwhile, but i think one of the reasons why it was so captivating particularly for that audience was possibly because it was so unexpected. they had sort of come into as an audience come into the speech with a bit of a chip on their shoulder with those expectations of what can she possibly say to us and the speech itself is really built around the question of diversity and embracing diversity in different kinds of ways and i think couching the conversation that she did in couching the conversation the way that she did barbara bush actually made it so much more relatable to these the women in the audience and then also the broader audience and so because it was unexpected because they didn't think she was going to deliver much and because she brought so much of her personality into this speech as well and demonstrated her ability to be thoughtful to be engaging to be really respectful of who they were and also
challenging them to be more than what they thought in ways that they might not have expected. i think that's all why it kind of captivated the particular audience and then the ways in which she used different kinds of metaphors and stories and anecdotes throughout and also had lots of wonderful little laugh lines. some of them were planned some of them were, you know, spontaneous. i think those moments just made her so endearing and also reinforced the overall message that she was trying to across and so i think that's why it's a message that still endures. plus the message itself is enduring. i mean believing in something larger than yourself life must have joy cherish your human connections like it's hard not to really like that message and then the way that she delivered it. great. i also was very interested in the fact that one of the things that she does immediately in. this speech is recognized the controversy. we heard the little clip at the
beginning about i know you wanted alice walk or known for the color purple. she makes a joke, obviously about the color of her hair, but there's also a line in the very beginning as well that we didn't see where she kind of gives a shout out to the class president her new best friend. that's how she refers to her. so you can you can only imagine and and nancy you probably know the answer to this. they must have had some discussion amongst the platform party prior to them actually arriving on the scene, you know up on the up on the podium to deliver that speech. she clearly had with the class president. clear about this. so what she's trying to do, i think in what she does beautifully in this speech is she gives us i think a subtle very gentle reproach to this to this class.
and it is about women choices in life. and she does it in that only only the way that barbara bush could do it in terms of her humor and that self-deprecating humor and also a little bit of pop culture in there. i won't tell george you loud you had a ferris bueller had a higher louder applause line and he did that kind of thing. she's very comfortable and she's very informal i think in a lot of ways. i also think that it's very important to point out that she had mrs gorbachev with her. i think that the two first ladies being on that stage together was also a very powerful visual for us and and
in terms of historical memory as well. i would also say to you. she speaks to even though they're generally different. she speaks a lot to things that hillary clinton picks up on later as first lady and that is women's choices are women's choices. they should not be dictated by you know, whatever whatever the political. whim of the day is and that we're lucky we have these choices. so i i find it remarkable for all of those reasons. yeah, just and for for some background she and the class president had actually had a phone call. okay, she writes about this in her memoir and they had had a phone call prior to her actually arriving and and began that
conversation then which is why she she really talks in the speech too about we're going to have a conversation. as i said, this was when when they were planning this speech it was going to be basically the speech she gave at saint louis university where i you was i think community college and then when the cot when the controversy hit when the students found out she'd been invited and 125 of the 600 signed a petition complaining and wanting it withdrawn. and she'd also invited ask the president if she could invite mrs. gorbachev before all the controversy started so it wasn't like she did that as a way of deflecting the controversy. she actually had done that ahead of time. and so then when all this hit they they pulled in some of george bush's speech writers said we have to do something a little even though we have the basic message, and she said that she didn't want to complain explain or apologize in any way
for any of this and one other thing she did at the beginning that you didn't see. i wish you all need to just go watch the whole speech. it's you and at the president at the bush library site, but she talked about the fact that she had been invited along with her husband too wellesley when they came back from china. and you know her husband was the wasn't an ambassador yet, but they went to china right after nixon opened it and that the two of them jointly spoke and she talked about how open the students were and how they embraced diversity so tammy's point. she really set this up to say, this is a place where you accept diverse people you accept diverse ideas and and she even went on to say, you know, i'm at a different era and i followed the path of my era. you're following yours. you don't necessarily understand mine and understand yours, and then there was that final incredible line. yeah, tammy you want to give it? oh, no that i was just i was
just loving to build up the go ahead. i don't want to step on you. okay, so, you know, she then says that the conversation doesn't end here and and i think you're absolutely right. this was a bigger conversation then about her being married to somebody famous. it really was about choices and the struggles that women have and she talked about how the hoop race had originally been whoever won. it would be the first one to get married. i think about the the julia roberts movie with julia stiles and some of those you know at i don't remember if they were well, so i did it was a similar wellesley smith, you know, they were getting married. that was what they were there for to get their mrs. and then it became who was going to be the ceo or on her own first company and then she said so now, you know, it's which of you will achieve your personal dream not societies, but your dream and she said and one day in this audience, you know one day you
may be listening to another presidential spouse and i wish him well and that of course just got the standing ovation, but it was you know, everything i think everybody says fantastic so that brings go ahead tammy. i just saying and just kind of they're just a couple of quick notes. when is that when she finishes she says may your may your future be worthy of your dreams? supposed to reinforce that idea of not society's dreams, but your own personal dreams, and i thought that was a really nice closing but one of the other things that i really enjoyed about this speech and honestly, every time i watch it or hear it or read it, i find other things that just kind of bubble up out of it each and every time it's such a wonderful experience to have but one of the things that i couldn't help but think was this was an interesting thing to have happened the speech in 1990 as a sort of preview for what happened in 1992 when we had barbara bush and hillary rodham clinton as the two potential
first ladies in that potent that campaign and so some of the conversation that came up with barbara bush and the wellesley speech came up over and over and over again in the 1992 campaign. and so i think this as a preview to that and as a as a sort of earlier than happened response to it was also kind of an interesting historical moment. the other thing i always think about when i hear this speech, i don't know if any of you remember an article that anne-marie slaughter who was working for secretary of state hillary clinton at the time wrote. i believe in the atlantic about and she left the state department because she had i think child in middle school and one in high school and she was commuting from boston and she finally just said we can't have it all women cannot have it all and i always think of this barbara bush speech because here's a woman who was at harvard was at the state department and she you know, like 20 years later was saying
basically that you have to make choices and that they have to be your choices and comfortable. so when we're tied that choices then we get to hillary clinton and this also got rave reviews worldwide and several opinion writers really believe that it was a speech that not her working. health care which didn't go very well, but this was a speech that really set her on the path. for her own independent career her own independent thinking and her own stage on the world scene. so, you know. what are your reactions to this speech start and we start with you? sure. well one of the things that i discovered a long time ago about hillary is that she had a much much. more sympathetic, i guess you would say audience internationally then she did
domestically she did spend an awful lot of time out of the country after the health care the so-called health care debacle. we can go into that at some other people do a whole panel on that, but after that people, you know, lots of pundits were referring to the fact that she wasn't making herself as publicly available as at the time before the healthcare, you know health care fell apart. but in fact she had started with madeline albright something known as vital voices and vital voices one of the main things that vital voices did was call attention to women seeking ways out of poverty worldwide. and seeking those ways through
education and also through small business loans and madeline albright and she made a terrific team mrs. clinton would would go into a country and give a speech and get a lot of people very very excited about this. they set up this program to give micro loans to women even micro loans is small as a hundred dollars to perhaps by a cow if that's what a particular woman and a particular place needed or access to a bank account. she did that for several years, i think close to four all told between the two between the two terms her husband was in office and we find what minimal
coverage of this in the press in the united states? nobody was really paying attention to her and what she was doing internationally. yes, china. or signature speech for for women's rights and for human rights and international relations. she set out to accomplish a couple of things on her way there one was to call attention to china's miserable record on human rights. her husband couldn't actually do as president. he didn't have that. you know that that freedom that she had but she had an audience that was extremely sympathetic. and she delivered as we say one of the top 100 speeches of the 20th century in that on that occasion.
but and just to kind of jump in on on the that idea one of the things that i thought was interesting. i looked up some of the coverage of this particular speech and i thought it was interesting that there were several reports that had said clinton said what many people said she could not say because of the rocky relationship that was going on between the us and china at the time and i that was really uh, that was it was just kind of interesting in ironic because it meant that she was actually enacting the rights she was claiming for everyone for all women. and so she's saying, you know women should be able to speak up and speak. you know, she said i think the line is that they should have the right to speak freely and the right to be heard and so for her to say that when she was not supposed to be able to say it was even more moving and the way that she said it in clear declarative statements assertive and direct without sounding. but sounding assertive but not aggressive. i think that tone that she
struck was really just just about perfect. i can't imagine how she could have delivered any better in terms of just reinforcing the notion of what seems like it should be just the common notion of human rights or women's rights women's rights are human rights because human women are humid. like that's basically saying women are human and to have to say it is has to be frustrating to get to say it when you're not supposed to be able to get to say it has to be so liberating. and so i think that's part of why this particular line and this particular speech really resonated way beyond that particular moment. until the universe if you notice, i'm sorry diane. i was just wondering if you noticed in your review of the coverage of the speech how little they're actually was in the united states how little regular press coverage in the newspaper. it just wasn't covered. it's not until later that it
becomes such a defining rhetorical moment for her. yeah, it was definitely after the fact that's true. well, and in fact, you know when i was doing the same thing tammy on the 20th anniversary there were articles and cnn, you know various stories on on major networks about 20 years after beijing and then at 25 years after beijing there were more so this you know, this one also deserves to be one of those top 100 and and you touched on i think something really important was she said something that should be obvious, but you know, we all know i also study the 19th amendment and women's suffrage going back to the 17th century and and you know, everybody just thought this was about women. it really wasn't a human right. this is just something women wanted and that obvious declaration had never been said in that kind of a way it with that kind of a worldwide audience. and so let me ask couple other questions.
i think one of the things first ladies can do is speak about something in a way that a male president cannot speak about. and this was one of them. can you think of some other historical examples of were first ladies used their podium to talk about something that their husbands wouldn't have had the same credibility for i'm not sure if it's the same level of credibility, but i certainly know that laura bush. you know, especially towards the end of her husband's second term really struck out on her own and spoke about issues that were not traditionally affiliated with her things such as a woman's right to choose. i don't think she ever came right out in and i did for that
but certainly through her. oh work with afghani women and everything that was going on there. she definitely pushed the boundaries that george was not able to the other thing i think too about laura bush and having this ability and where her a lot of her credibility may have come in to play too. this is the fact that she's the mother of two young women exper. being a lot of things for the first time, you know college choices and then once in college, you know, we we know that barbara bush jr. certainly enjoyed her timing college. jenna was a little more serious in this time period but here's a month. she was a mom and she had that experience as well so she could talk about young women in their choices. so that's one example i can
think of yeah, and i would i would add to that barbara bush actually in the 1992 campaign when she started to when people started to talk about her finally finding her voice because she had been so in many people's a estimations reserved about sharing her political opinion and then in the 1992 campaign, she started to do things like for example reframing the notion of family values when her husband could only really stick to the traditional family values because that's what the the republican party was talking about it at the time barbara bush actually started reframing family as whatever kind of family. you're a part of and so she expanded the the notion of what family could possibly mean and then expanded the idea of what the traditional family values should mean with the outside of traditional boundaries. so i think that was a space where barbara bush actually had more credibility and an ability to actually expand a conversation that her husband couldn't yeah, you know, well
hillary could do some things that her husband couldn't do one other things that first ladies do with their their podium and ladybird johnson was an excellent example of that how she really promoted head start and a lot of the other great society programs, but what about the relationship of this particular speech and how it might have helped helped with bill clinton's foreign policy. yes. and tammy i think that. hillary was an asset to bill. especially in the second term in so many ways not the least of which was in his foreign policy. he has never been shy about speaking of his admiration for how sharp she is politically and intellectually and i think that he definitely i think the
decision was made and i would obviously have to spend more time researching this but i think at some point a decision was probably made that. okay, and she may have made it herself. she talks a little bit about this in her first in her first book. the decision to if people at home domestically are not appreciative of her intellect her, you know, her political will or political power political will and all of that. then she would go elsewhere and she found as i said a lot more sympathy i think and more. more understanding outside of the united states than she did within especially in that's our second term. and again, we know the second
term is where clinton's president clinton's credibility as it related to monica and the rest of it and the impeachment just fell apart and meanwhile hillary is off creating this wonderful image herself and doing the country a lot of good i think. yeah, and setting herself up to be a really. effective secretary of state eventually right because she was developing those relationships. she was really establishing her image. she was learning more about you know, different cultural and and governmental norms. not that she didn't know a lot of it already but you know, she was really cultivating her own future position even though she may not have thought about it as secretary of state, but she was certainly thinking about where she was going next and so helping him out. probably a pretty good thing that she did but helping herself out an excellent thing that she
did absolutely this, you know, i said this speech has gotten attention up until just a few years ago, and i'm sure people have thought about it given what's happening right now in afghanistan, which brings us to laura bush and that speech first thing i thought when i listened to it again, she could give that today. why do you think they selected her to give this speech it was done a week before thanksgiving and actually in the latter part of the speech. she talks about that and and is really very maternal in how she kind of pulls us back to where we are post 9/11, you know two months after it. so, why do you think they selected her to do the the presidential radio address? tammy you want to start that one or sure. i think she you know, they laura bush was always a well-liked first lady and she also, you know was a very relatable person and in some of the the academic. jargon we would say she builds
bridges of identification right bonds the consubstantial bonds, but really it comes down to she's very relatable in the you know, she was one of the keys to to her husband's campaign each for each election cycle people like her people felt her compassion both after nine after 9/11 and also before that she just came across a sincere and genuine and so giving this particular speech. she had the credibility of being the sort of maternal figure for the nation. she also had the credibility of already already having established herself as sort of the consoler in chief if you will and so i think having her draw the attention, i think it was something that was very personal to her. she had a very strong personal interest in it and that sincerity and that interest just i think comes pouring out of her in the way that she talks both in this speech and in other instances about the situation and so i think that was a great
decision for them to have her address the nation and i think it was mostly based on on who she was in the persona. she'd already developed. yeah. agree, i really think that particularly the fact that it was so close to thanksgiving. and we're talking about the first major quote family holiday close quote of that we were facing as americans at that time and mrs. bush had pretty much, you know stepped to the background while george bush got us through those first few weeks particularly after the attacks and 9/11, but then when she stepped forward again, she stepped forward i think as his partner and spouse and i think that as as tammy said it was a persona she had already established and it was a really
a good choice on the bush administration's part to have her do that particular dress at that time. you know one of the other things about first ladies is just like presidents. they don't go away after the term is over and her commitment to afghanistan has you know continued since they left office and i think in that sense, it's given her the credibility to speak out since we have had the withdrawal and and the human rights issues that are going on there, and that's been true so many other first ladies who've really almost done more because they established those connections that credibility they had that platform and they continue to use it. i'm mindful of time before i do that my tech person texted me that the chat function is not working on youtube for some reason so he set up an email address. so if you have a question or a comment, please send it to flair all lowercase fl a r e questions
all one word plural flair questions at gmail.com. so that's f l a r e q u e s t i o n s at gmail.com and then we'll monitor those questions. i want to leave some time. so this brings us then to the last speaker and you talked about the maternal piece that laura bush really use that very effectively as the consoler in chief and you know when michelle obama came in here, she's princeton harvard educated had been you know. major law firm had been a hospital administrator. i mean, this is a woman like a hillary clinton who had power positions and she said, you know, she was going to be mom in chief and there were a lot of women who said wait a minute. you know, you have a chance especially as the first african-american first lady to move some things forward and what she chose to emphasize where education military families and healthy children.
so what about this particular speech? why was it only in michelle at least in my opinion only in michelle obama could have given this speech one of you want to comment on that or do you disagree with me? oh, i think it was a very powerful speech to very specific audience. already recognizing that you know, obviously she recognizes that it's going to be a speech. that's broadcast that we'll be able to look up on youtube later. certainly michelle did an enormous amount of speaking during her time as first lady and after as you just mentioned diana, but she was speaking to newly minted black college grads, and i think that it was really important for her. and it was only a speech that
she could give as the first black first lady. i think it was she because again almost like barb as i mentioned with barbara bush. i think it's stronger and michelle's it's almost as if she is. chiding them somewhat her audience, like don't make this don't we cannot equate a black child with a book to acting white? we've got to throw that out. we've got to you know, we've got to move forward and frankly. i don't think that a white. first lady could have delivered those remarks. in that way you know again, i think she recognized her audience and adapted to it accordingly in a very powerful way. yeah, i think it's an interesting speech in that you know, i i understand what an
saying about chiding the audience, but i think she was chiding the broader audience not the specific audience because when she says, you know you know to reject the the idea that a black kid with a book is trying to act white. she's not talking about the audience that just graduated from college, right? he's actually giving them a sense of empowerment of you. are you have a space in this world? you have done something that's important and good and even though she's saying it is sort of a chiting voice. she's saying she's saying don't list kind of saying to them don't listen to the critiques what you've done is you're being an example of excellence for the next generation. she says to be it, but she's actually showing them that they they are and i think this speech is really interesting and i was reading through some of the youtube responses to the speech and one of the things that i thought was kind of fun and speaks to the idea of michelle obama being the one who was able to give this speech. was that the part that we saw the clip that we saw us starts
it around the 1134 mark on the actual speech itself and people kept commenting on that mark as where it got. like it really got real like those kinds of comments kept coming like she's getting real at this point, you know kind of fast forward to this spot spot because they could feel the authenticity the the genuineness of what she was saying and the passion behind it. and i think that's one of the things that michelle obama was very in is very very good at saying what she feels in a way that lets everybody feel what she feels as well and i think that was being shown right in in this particular speech the kind of frustration the kind of hope the kind of you know reassurance for this specific audience and then the tiding of the broader audience. it's all very effectively done and we all know michelle obama was quite an effective speaker. yeah, and i'm sure members of that audience had been accused when they were reading books or going to college or getting a
degree and so, you know having you talked about being able to identify they could definitely identify with what she was saying, you know, one of the other common stories that she told in her commencement addresses, especially to a jackson state or if she went into a high school that was probably dominantly an african american high school was her own story of a counselor telling her that she wasn't good enough to get into princeton. she could not get into princeton and you know, she she really makes a point of that. don't let anyone do that to you and that's another one of those common messages. she's she's certainly doesn't mince words and she doesn't shy away from the controversy and i agree. she did it, you know, very effectively i'm looking at time. we don't any questions yet, but please do it's flare questions at gmail.com and i guess before
we bring nancy virus back, but before you know, well i can throughout some more questions too until we get some from the audience but in general one of the other things that was interesting about michelle obama was that she didn't rely on traditional media to get her story out. yeah. she used, you know. nancy reagan started it showing up on different strokes in a cameo, but she was doing cameos on multiple like with her joining forces. she was on nashville. she was on sesame street on how many times but she you know, she had she there's a wonderful video of her sending out first tweet by a first lady, you know, twitter instagram pinterest. she was everywhere any kind of reactions to the fact that she really sidestepped and was able to tell her story create her narrative her way.
well, i i have found that it's interesting that you bring that up diana because in a the most recent thing i published on hillary was looking at her relationship with her pressed to press secretaries or directors of communication and the two different terms and early on in the first term one of her her press secretary at the time really wanted her to do exactly those kinds of things. like nancy reagan. she wanted her one of the things she wanted hillary to do was to go. i think it was on. i want to say tool time. it was i think that was the name of the tool time with tim taylor there. it was a very popular sitcom at the time. she really there was there's a whole it's it's a fascinating
document in the clinton library where you can see this whole media strategy for using popular culture at the time. of course, there wasn't instagram or facebook or twitter at the time when hillary was first lady, but the idea of going around the mainstream media to create a more likable image with something that i think. um, both presidents and first ladies have done and other elected officials have done. we have a question. danny asks our living first ladies afforded appropriate coverage by the media. i guess that would be both the incumbent in any of the others. i think it depends on the first lady. i think it really depends on the first lady because some first ladies just want to kind of go back to their private lives. remember the first ladies don't always choose this position.
they choose how they enact it, but they but the women who've been in this position so far have all been had it kind of hoisted on them. and so some of them actually don't necessarily want to be in the limelight in the same way afterwards and so some of them will take some time away in which case you don't want cameras in your face all the time on the other hand. you also see some first ladies who embrace the attention that they are able to garner and use it for a lot of different kinds of activities and events and to draw attention to issues michelle obama, for example, actually a wrote about this for a book chapter. she actually gained more attention during melania trump's time is first lady then melania trump did and so she's in it doesn't have any problems gaining attention after after leaving the white house some people might argue that melania trump didn't receive enough attention, but that's a whole different argument that we could
save for another conversation. yeah. i think we can do it program nancy. yeah. i think that it's also interesting that even today that in terms of formal filming coverage of first lady it is not the same the white house communications agency does not cover consistently first ladies speeches or public appearances the way they do depressants. so a lot of us when we're scholarly looking for something are wondering why isn't there an official record of this and you're picking it up from news media or instead of from the official and i think that's interesting in that. our time their speeches have had very powerful effects as the panel has pointed out and it wouldn't be nice to have their
have a more formal process of what was covered. and sort of like the papers of the president the papers of first ladies, you know, there's no real easy way of getting into the speeches, but part of that is the coverage or lack of yeah, i'm thinking we have another possible program here. you know how first ladies have used the media you stop and think about florence harding would do these kind of informal events out in the lawn and then she would make some comments and they weren't formal speeches or formal news, but they were photo ops. she kind of created that and then you had lou henry hoover who gave the first radio address by a first lady and did several of them and then of course what eleanor roosevelt did and you can't take but i think we have another another program we have about let me check here. we have about four minutes anita
did have a comment. this is anita mcbride for those of you watching. anita was laura bush's chief of staff in the second term and anita said it was actually george bush's suggestion that laura give the address on the topic of afghan women. so president bush was the one who thought that this was something that laura should do and he was absolutely, right. we also have something from bonnie who asked for us to talk a little bit about michelle obama's speech in new hampshire in response to the hollywood access tape. anyone pull that from their memory and comment on that one and when we when they go low we go high speech yes. i i think i had an incredible opportunity to watch that speech at a communication and gender conference and everyone was talking about it. we didn't watch it live. we watched it later on a group of us watched it in a hotel
ballroom later that night and it was great because we had a free for all on it. and i think that that's when people started talking about michelle obama running for the presidency. i don't know you probably remember that but that speech again was something only i think michelle could have given at that time. you know and on michelle obama during the 2018 campaign the way she was used was to talk to black roots. she was the main person who talked to african-americans and the south and wow. he covered more why mainstream groups, so they they really used her for specific reason and that campaign.
we have about two minutes. anyone have any last thoughts about either these speeches or oh my right? yeah, okay. i just want to make three quick points. i interviewed mrs. bush. that is barbara bush for the biography that i wrote of her. and i asked her if she ever considered not going to wellesley because of the controversy and she said no absolutely not if it never went through my mind. i was a little nervous but no never and by the way the same speech was also given at the university of pennsylvania during their commencement, but they're really wasn't that level of interest at that point, you know, that was one second. i had a teaching colleague who was in the audience in beijing when hillary clinton gave the speech and she said and you folks may remember this the location of that speech was
moved. the day of the speech so that the news media couldn't cover it. and she recalled seeing news media being shunted away from even this secondary location. my third point too is because of my my work on betty ford betty ford also ends up saying some things that her husband could have never said. yeah, and i think she's a good example, too, but i i enjoyed all of your comments. i i think there are spot on and i i would welcome certainly a panel on the first lady and her press coverage media coverage myra. can i just ask who decided to move hillary's location and beijing, um, according to my colleague. it was an official decision by
some level of permanent bureaucrat. um, this colleague of mine said there was absolutely. no mention of mrs. clinton's speech in the next day's coverage of convention in china nothing. okay, so it was official it. so i chinese officials not america. i need officials, right? yeah. well we've reached the 5:30 point and we promise to let you out in an hour. but thank you again to everybody who's joined us. this will be on our youtube channel. so if you go to youtube and just type in first ladies association for research and education or flair, you should be able to find us but it's easier to find us by going to our website and that website is flair hyphen net. dot org? so it's f l a r e hyphen n e t dot org and in the lower right hand corner. we have a youtube icon and if
you click on that it will take you in. all of our programs will be on there. so and and you can also find out a lot about what we're doing with flair. there's a lot of educational material on there a lot of very interesting information and we also hope you might consider becoming a member. so thank you to tammy and anne nancy for pulling the speeches together myra for leading us and good night everybody. thank you. c-span has hundreds of programs on first ladies, including archival footage interviews and book talks. here's a look at one of our programs. we entered the treaty room and as i began my recital. saw on the table some rather tattered notebooks and chewed pencils a high school algebra and a latin book. it was evident that linda and lucy had discovered what i too would soon learn that this room
is mighty conducive to getting work done. almost from the beginning i've used this room to launch the projects closest to my heart. it's a good place to gather your committee or your group. talking to being a program and get it moving. most of our beautification planning was done right here. we took our notes on president grant's table and our leia song with the outside world. was this old french telephone made back in the 1890s. and then i know that one day when i walk through the finished lyndon b johnson library at the university of texas. vivid memories of this room will come to mind for almost three years our various library committees have met here. bringing in the chancellor and regions architects historians and archivists. and all manner of design exhibit people here we have watched the
library grow. from just a germ of an idea. to a real living repository of history and so a room that started out as a working environment by a succession of presidents. still provides that very important function for 20th century first ladies with a variety of projects. it is a working room but like any room in the white house. it is also a collection of memories. take a closer. look at the spouses of our nation's presidents their private lives public roles and legacies watch all of our first ladies programs online at first ladies dot c-span.org. weekends on c-span 2 are an intellectual feast every saturday american history tv
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