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My Most Important Conversation With Michelle Obama

On the release of Michelle Obama’s latest book The Light We Carry only a week ago, many have already Grab your first ticket on the former Ladies’ Entourage Coast to Coast Tour . A stark departure from her previous bestseller Becoming—, this book tells a story of honesty, motherhood, and shared experiences, featuring Chynna Clayton, from 95 to 95 loyal aides who worked with Obama.

As Obama’s new life unfolds after leaving office, Clayton becomes more like family; in the book, Obama Jokingly calling Clayton her mom as she helps manage her tight-knit ship. Here, Clayton talks to Vogue for the first time about her relationship with former FLOTUS, the power of mentoring, and what it means to feel seen.

I grew up in a single parent household. My dad went to jail when I was three, something I’ve never spoken about publicly. This is something I’m ashamed of. Growing up in Miami, I found myself in a predominantly white elementary school. I ended up there because the summer before first grade started, a teacher at the nearby school where I went to Kindergarten pulled my mom aside and said, “You’ve got to get her out of here.”

Thankfully, that teacher saw something in me, a flame she knew would go out if I stayed. Years later, Mrs. Obama would further ignite that same flame.

My mom moved us to the villages on the Miami coast, to a neighborhood with pristine lawns, two-car garages, and better funded schools. What I got there was exposure, a glimpse of a different way of life, and a window into what we could gain by moving to the other side of the interstate 95. The freeway, known locally as “95,” acts like a giant fence through the Miami area I call home, turning seemingly prosperous areas into Struggling schools separated from high-crime neighborhoods kill the path to success.

There, I was one of the only black girls in my friend group and the only black girl in the Girl Scout troop. I always say those experiences helped shape and shape me. There is a confidence that comes from early experience in challenging situations. There is also a drive that comes from seeing what is possible. You start to feel less of an outsider and move through space as if you belong to…



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