Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a beautiful thank you note to Michelle Obama in the New York Times which compares her speech before her husband was elected to 2008 to her presence as she prepares to walk away from the White House.

In 2008, when America was preparing to elect its first black president, ‘she had to flatten herself to better fit the mold of first lady.’ But she couldn’t quite emulate Jackie Kennedy or Nancy Reagan: ‘Because she said what she thought, and because she smiled only when she felt like smiling, and not constantly and vacuously, America’s cheapest caricature was cast on her: the Angry Black Woman.’

Eight years on, ‘she had become an American style icon’ but she was also a woman who said ‘black boy’ and ‘slave’: ‘words she would not have said eight years ago because eight years ago any concrete gesturing to blackness would have had real consequences.’

She had conquered.

‘She was relaxed, emotional, sentimental. Her uncertainties laid to rest. Her rhythm was subtler, because she no longer needed it as her armor, because she had conquered.’

Read the full letter here