Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The story behind the cover

A note on the cover, from Peggy & Barbara

Unlike other recent books on the First Lady which feature a single photo—glamour shot—of the First Lady on the cover, we chose to represent the First Lady as a person who can be up close and personal and in contact with the people. We are especially pleased with the second photo of the First Lady with an older woman because it also depicts the First Lady as willing to listen to the ordinary person. Through a bit of research, we found that this photo was taken on September 17, 2008 at an Economic Empowerment Session held at the Richmond Convention Center in Virginia. "The First Lady talked for about an hour with three Richmond-area women about their struggles—a woman with a college-age son and a mother with Alzheimer's disease; a 78 year old woman trying to pay the bills since her husband suddenly died; and a mother of three who works and attends school full time." Michelle was dressed casually and we understand that she requested that other women come dressed casually as well.

We were determined to find the names and stories of the women on the book cover, especially the older woman. The older woman in the bottom photo is 78 year old Ms. Mary Henley of Richmond, Virginia. We found Ms. Henley and contacted her. We were able to contact her because Ms. Henley's hairdresser was shown the book by one of the contributors to the book. The hairdresser was stunned and said, "that is my customer Ms. Henley." I got Ms. Henley's phone number from that contributor and gave her a call. Ms. Henley was both shocked and happy to learn that she was on the front cover of this book with the First Lady. She was thrilled. My first question was "What did the First Lady say to you?" Her response was, "I was so excited and my knees were knocking together so much that I do not remember a single word she said to me." I asked, "What did you tell Michelle?" She responded: "I told her about how my husband and I were in our late seventies and that we had to work part time to make ends meet. We both worked jobs cleaning offices. I told her that while me and my husband were driving to our part-time jobs he told me that he had a tingling in his legs, then he said he felt numb in his arms, then he just pulled off the side of the road, slumped over and died. I called 911 but I could not help him." She said that when she began to cry, the First Lady reached for tissues, put her arms around her and offered her words of comfort." I told Ms. Henley that we would send her a copy of the book. Her greatest wish is that she could get it signed by the First Lady. She also spoke lovingly of the First Lady who had sent her a nice letter after the Economic Summit and added her signature.

I am sharing this story because the women who contributed letters to the Go, Tell Michelle book also believe that this First Lady will hear their stories and read their words as they try to imbue comfort, love and support for her in her incredible task as First Lady of the nation.

— Peggy & Barbara

1 comment:

  1. This is a collectors book! I will let my circle know about this. I heard of this book on C-Span June 09.
    Thank you for putting this in audio.
    Houston, TX