Michelle Obama came to the Midlands with a script Saturday and stuck to it.
She delivered the keynote address for a Women’s Day luncheon at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia.
Speaking to a predominantly African-American audience of 700 women, Obama, the wife of presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., trumpeted the role women play in their families and communities.
But she urged women to take some time for themselves. “Doing it all is a badge of honor,” Obama said. “But we must not let that overwhelm us.”
Obama said she is doing more and more on the campaign trail with her husband these days, juggling motherhood, marriage and a career.
“I usually don’t do things on a Saturday,” she said. “It’s the time I devote to my girls,” Malia, 8, and Sasha, 5.
Obama said she returned to the Palmetto State because of a relationship she and the senator have developed with Brookland Baptist pastor Rev. Charles B. Jackson and his wife.
“I want to claim this as my South Carolina church home,” Obama told the audience in an event that was closed to the public.
Sen. Obama, who was campaigning Saturday in New Hampshire, is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president. South Carolina and female voters could play a significant role in determining who that nominee will be.
Stacey Brayboy of Manning was introduced as state director of the Obama campaign during the luncheon.
Michelle Obama related some life experiences to her audience Saturday.
She told the story of a recent family trip to Kenya, where her husband’s father grew up. A small village near her husband’s family has been ravaged by AIDS. A quarter of the children in that village have been orphaned by the disease, she said, and grandmothers have joined forces and resources to step in and fill the void.
Likewise, Michelle Obama’s mother has stepped in to help the Obamas manage their new, busier lives, she said.
The Obamas, of course, are in a different arena on the national political stage, and Michelle Obama asked for the Brookland women’s assistance.
“I want you rooting for me and my family,” Obama said. “We must be able to champion other women. We have to root for each other’s success and not celebrate each other’s failures.”