On February 13, Mrs. Michelle Obama graced a stage in Indianapolis, IN for “A Moderated Conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama” hosted by Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. The audience of more than 12,000 watched in awe and applauded continuously to every gem that Mrs. Obama dropped. The Strength of SHE was lucky enough to be in the audience.

A Moderated Conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama

Photo credit: Photography by Daniel Arthur Jacobson

The event kicked off with a video from Women’s Fund featuring their Campaign to Change Direction, which focuses on mental health. However, there were various themes during this conversation, moderated by Alecia DeCoudreaux, including self-esteem, confidence, taking risks and being an advocate. All important messages for women, especially women of color, to hear. Mrs. Obama shared various tips on perseverance and the importance of taking advantage of your seat at the table. She is exactly right. Girls and women can’t be intimidated when we finally get into rooms with others who don’t look like us. We have to speak up and let our presence and opinions be known. If not, why are we there?

This was such an inspiring event that touched literally thousands of women at once. Jennifer Pope Baker, executive director of Women’s Fund, even shared that from the ticket sales alone, there was $1 million raised that will directly support girls and women in the Indianapolis community. There was so much excitement in the room and especially black girl magic, which can’t be denied anytime Mrs. Obama is in the equation.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes and takeaways from the conversation:

On support:

“You don’t get anywhere in life without people holding you up.”

On growing up with extended family:

“The most important role models you have are people right in front of you.”

On overcoming fears:

“Some people are afraid of you because of the color of your skin.”

“I’m that kid you’re afraid of.”

“You practice achieving through others low expectations of you.”

“You can’t get a seat at the table without being prepared. You have to put in the work.”

On looking good and being a fashion icon:

“My goal was to be cute and comfortable because you’re only as comfortable with people as you are with yourself.”

“Fashion has to work for you and your body, so you can feel good about yourself.”

On having a public life and doing it gracefully:

“When you know who you are, nobody can take that from you.”

“I have been able to consistently be me.”

On women without support who are struggling with obstacles such as poverty, mental health, etc:

“You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have boots.”

“I don’t want to pump up people who have no options. We should be working to fix those problems.”

On mental health:

“Sadly, we live in a society where mental health is stigmatized.”

“Knowing the five signs of emotional suffering is like knowing CPR. It deserves the same respect and care as any other health issue.”

On getting in the room and ensuring your voice is heard:

“Have the courage in your conviction and confidence in your experiences.”

There were so many gems and so many great topics touched that women forget are important to discuss. For many, this will be a night to remember and a night that serves as a reminder that we too are important and we too play a big role in this society and country.