GBHEM Staffer's Letter to Michelle Obama Selected for Book

January 30, 2009

The letter written to incoming first lady Michelle Obama by a General Board of Higher Education and Ministry staffer was selected for a collection of letters published in a new book, Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady.


"In my letter I talk about growing up in Haywood County, Tenn., during the early 1960s and the struggle African Americans in that area had when they tried to register to vote. My parents and their neighbors were among those who stood in long lines and persevered to make Nov. 4, 2008, possible. The Obamas are a beacon of hope and light and the answer to so many hopes and dreams. They will inspire all of us to greatness!" said Cynthia Bond Hopson, who added that she was elated that her letter was selected for the book published by Suny Press. Hopson, assistant general secretary of the Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns in the Division of Higher Education, wrote in her essay that the Obamas were what "we have yearned for."


"You are hope, light, promise - flesh and blood that shows yes, African-American women can be proud, gentle, graceful and grace filled, intelligent, strong but compassionately positive role models, a force to be reckoned with! You show that we can love our husbands and children because we have had parents who loved each other and us. I fully understand that helping you and President Obama move our country and world to a more just place will take all of us striving for the best from ourselves and our neighbors. We must hold each other and hold each other accountable for our choices, we must speak truth in love, we must accept no limitations or excuses from ourselves or our government and together we can and will stand tall," Hopson wrote.


She ended the essay with a prayer for the new first lady that "when you are tired, you will listen to your heart and rest and renew yourself; when you don't please everyone, you will understand the futility of even trying and you will trust the Scriptures and lean not to your own understanding."


Shortly after the election, the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women in Buffalo, N.Y., sent out a call across the country for African-American women to share their hopes, fears, and advice with the new first lady. The editors, Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, gathered the letters after Obama was lampooned in cartoons and accused of being un-American.


The editors wanted to solicit African-American women to send Michelle Obama "a special message, grounded in our common ancestry and in the belief that our daughters have not only been inspired by her accomplishments but empowered by her example."


The Black College Fund supports the 11 United Methodist-related historically Black colleges. Hopson's own books include Times of Challenge and Controversy: Voter Registration in Haywood County, Tennessee 1960-1961 (University Press, 2005).


To order the book, visit the Suny Press Web site at


To learn more about the Black College Fund, visit


Listen to NPR's All Things Considered story about the book.