Former First Lady Michelle Obama visited Philadelphia Nov. 27 as part of her national book tour. The tour, billed as a series of “intimate conversations,” is hitting 10 cities around the country to support her new memoir “Becoming.”
The event took place in the Wells Fargo Center, an obvious venue for an intimate conversation. The event had sold out weeks in advance, and the crowd was thoroughly excited to see Obama. There was also the opportunity for those unable to afford tickets to attend, as 10 percent of ticket inventory to each event are being donated for free to community groups in each of the cities she is visiting.
Throughout the tour, Michelle Obama has celebrity moderators to converse with including Oprah Winfrey, Tracee Ellis Ross and Sarah Jessica Parker. Philadelphia’s conversation was moderated by Phoebe Robinson. Phoebe Robinson is the co-host of the “2 Dope Queens” podcast that was adapted into a series for HBO. She also wrote the New York Times Bestseller “You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain” and starred in the Netflix original film “Ibiza” alongside Gillian Jacobs and Vanessa Bayer.
The conversation covered a variety of subjects inspired by the book. Robinson guided the conversation throughout the night with questions she wanted to ask the former first lady after reading. They talked about lighter subjects like sweet potato pie and the pronunciation of Now and Laters, but also discussed deeper topics like the importance of diverse stories being told and being the first black family in the White House.
While the event at the Wells Fargo Center was the main attraction, it was not her only appearance in Philadelphia. Earlier in the day Obama had an event at The African American Museum in Philadelphia. There she surprised 12 young women from beGirl.world, a global education and travel organization started in 2014 to empower young girls to become citizens of the world.
The 12 students participated in workshops on creativity, self-expression, travel, entertainment and entrepreneurship. They also heard from Eric Waldo, the executive director of Reach Higher, Obama’s college access and success campaign initiative. The girls also participated in a roundtable event with the former FLOTUS, Phoebe Robinson and beGirl.world Co-Founder and Executive Director Deesha Dyer. Dyer served as White House social secretary in the Obama Administration. During the roundtable they discussed key excerpts from the book and her experience traveling the world as first lady.
Michelle Obama’s book has been highly anticipated since it was announced in February. “Becoming” was simultaneously published in 24 languages around the world and the audiobook is read by Obama herself.
The memoir is a reflection on growing up on the South Side of Chicago, balancing the demands of motherhood and work and her time as first lady. She takes an unflinching look at her life, the highs and lows, public and private, her own words on her own terms. The book has been an overwhelming success, selling 2 million copies in two weeks. It has also already made it to the top of the list of best selling books in 2018, beating “Fear: Trump in the White House” by Bob Woodward and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas.