Source: Michelle Obama | Instagram

Hours before Michelle Obama’s big night at the United Center, where she’s being interviewed by fellow Chicago giant Oprah Winfrey for the debut of her new book, “Becoming,” the former First Lady had a message for everyone around the world:

There’s still a lot of good in Chicago. Period.

On Tuesday, Obama wrote a touching open letter to her native South Side in the Chicago Defender, the historic Black newspaper founded in the early 1900s by Robert S. Abbott. In the letter, she takes readers to the summer of 1975: when her principal at Bryn Mawr Elementary School in South Shore wrote a letter to the Defender, challenging an opinion piece that referred to the Bryn Mawr neighborhood as a “‘run-down slum’ governed by a ‘ghetto mentality.’”

“As ‘White flight’ took off, prospects in South Shore fell. Observers began throwing around words like ‘ghetto’ to describe our neighborhood. My mother would tell me years later that all the while, predatory real estate agents were never far, whispering to home owners that they should sell before it was too late. The future was coming, they’d say, and it didn’t look good.”

Obama pens the words many Black Chicagoans, especially those us who living in disregarded communities on the South and West sides, have heard since childhood. The summer of 1975 is no different than the 2000s, when the Cabrini-Green projects, among others, were being torn down and our grandparents whispered about “the white folks” returning to push Black people out of the city.

Obama’s retelling of this seemingly endless cycle, however, puts the story of Black Chicago on the world stage for everyone to see. It’s a challenge to the mass narrative of Black Chicagoans as violent savages. It makes anyone with something half-witted to say about Black Chicago see that there’s more to our story.

“As I write in my memoir, Becoming, failure is a feeling long before it is an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

Obama is kicking off her book tour at the United Center tonight (8PM) with BECOMING: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama. With world-renown media maven Oprah Winfrey as her guide, Obama will discuss her public and private life, and the childhood experiences on Chicago’s South Side that shaped who she is today.

Her memoir, Becoming, is on sale now.

To read her full open letter to Chicago’s South Side, visit