By Maggie Dunning
February is Black History Month. People all over the U.S. use this month to educate others about black history.
Dawn Pleas-Bailey, vice president for student life and special assistant to the president, said, “It’s just kind of learning about different populations.”
Southwestern also joins in on the celebrations of Black History Month.
Pleas-Bailey said, “Different years they do different things, generally Lai-L Clemons will work with the diversity council plus a group of students to see what they are interested in.”
One of arguably the most powerful figures for both African Americans as well as women is the first lady Michelle Obama. Although, Pleas-Bailey thinks that Michelle Obama doesn’t have a role to play in educating people about how things use to be for African Americans.
She said, “I think that if you are into women’s issues, I think that she’s a good role model for that.”
Michelle Boucher, associate professor of English, said “She expresses concerns about the things that women care about and feminists almost by definition, and she is not afraid to champion those things. She was a lawyer in her own right and a very powerful attorney. She has had her own self-fulfillment.”
Michelle Boucher went on to say that it’s not easy being the first lady. “I think it is a very difficult job because the people didn’t elect you, they elected your spouse,” said Boucher.
Krystal Winn, admission counselor, said, “I would portray her as a strong black woman who advocates for the rights of others and for equality.”
Boucher and Winn think that Michelle Obama is a powerful symbol for people all over America.
Boucher said, “I think she is a powerful symbol for black women in the country. A symbol in a different way, because the strong black woman that has become the cultural icon is the strong black woman who is the single mother. We don’t have a lot of those images of strong black women who are partners with their spouse and I think that she has done that in an extraordinary way that I admire.”
Winn said, “I think that she is inspiring. We have hoped to see that you don’t have to expose yourself in a sexual light or an inappropriate light to be successful or to be portrayed well by society.”
Winn also said, “She is strong in that light as well, that she has never given up, that she believed in the dream that he had set. She has constantly supported her husband and been an advocate for him in the mist of her own success.”
However, even Boucher and Tracy Frederick, professor of communication, think society isn’t ready for everything Michelle Obama says and stands for.
Boucher said, “I think that it is a difficult position but I think that Michelle Obama is a strong woman. She is not afraid to say what she thinks and it has even gotten her into trouble a couple of times.”
Frederick said, “I would not compare her to a male because she has that boundary of femaleness, so I don’t think you can make that comparison because socially we aren’t at that place.”
Even if society isn’t ready to make that comparison, people at SC still think Michelle Obama can make a connection to women around the globe.
Winn said, “She is not ashamed to make herself vulnerable or to put herself out there in certain situations. I feel like she’s just real with the world as much as I guess a first lady can be.”
Boucher said, “She is sure enough of herself that she is willing to be the wife of the president and share that space and not feel diminished and not feel like a set piece in that picture. She models for all women a way that you can be both a wife and a mother and a strong powerful woman.”
Winn said, “The way that she sits, the way that she talks, the way that she responds, all of her non-verbals and also her verbal communication. It’s a good representative of what type of woman we should try to aspire to be.”
Maggie Dunning is a communication freshman. You may email her at email@example.com.