Former first lady Michelle Obama and TV journalist Gayle King, who served as moderator, took the stage on Saturday night, May 11, 2019, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta to discuss Obama's memoir, “Becoming.” (Photo: TYLER ESTEP / AJC)

Admirers welcome Michelle Obama on book tour stop in Atlanta

Former first lady Michelle Obama made the penultimate stop of her sold-out book tour tonight at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena.

After a series of video montages that ranged from humorous to inspirational, Obama took the stage just after 8:45 p.m. 

She got a standing ovation. 

"Atlanta showed up tonight!" Obama said.

Indeed: Fans were starting to file in hours before the show. 

The event — moderated by by “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King —  will discuss “Becoming,” the No. 1-selling memoir Obama released last fall. It’s billed as “an intimate conversation,” but the NBA arena formerly known as Philips was at capacity.

Earlier in the week, third-party ticket sites like Vivid Seats and Stubhub were listing nose-bleed seats at $250 or more.

Neither that nor Saturday’s threat of rain appeared to deter fans of the popular former first lady. Plenty of ticketholders were queued up by 5 p.m. for the 8 p.m. event.

By the time gates opened at 6:30 p.m., one line had stretched along Centennial Olympic Park Drive almost to the CNN Center entrance.

Inside the arena, admirers waited in long lines to buy T-shirts and other official book tour merchandise — and then waited in line to take selfies with a nearby sign with an inspirational Obama quote: “Find your flame and keep it lit.” 

Sanshon Jackson came to the event with her mother and daughter. She called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Obama, she said, is an icon. 

“She’s still my favorite first lady,” Jackson said.

Hours before the event was scheduled to begin, admirers of former first lady Michelle Obama were lined up at State Farm Arena on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Atlanta was the next-to-last stop on Obama's book tour for her memoir, "Becoming." (Photo: TYLER ESTEP/AJC)

Shonda Smith, 48, and daughter Zaria made the short trip from College Park and were inside the arena early.

They said they’re fans of Obama because she’s stayed relatable despite her stature.

“Even though she was first lady, she never lost sight of who she was,” Shonda Smith said. “I think that’s why people connect to her.”

Said Zaria, 19: “She represents a lot of things that we want to be or that we already are.”

More: 111-year-old Atlanta resident gets free tickets to Michelle Obama event

Obama released “Becoming” in November and it quickly became the best-selling book of 2018. Covering everything from Obama’s childhood  in Chicago to her time in the White House, her marriage and current President Donald Trump, it has sold more than 10 million copies and is considered one of the the best-selling memoirs of all time.

It’s also already being studied by future generations of political leaders.

Prior to the sold-out engagement at State Farm Arena, Obama stopped by the Atlanta University Center to discuss her memoir with a handful of students from Spelman and Morehouse colleges. 

Before her book tour appearance Saturday night at State Farm Arena, former first lady Michelle Obama met with students from Spelman College and Morehouse College. The students spent this past semester studying her memoir, "Becoming," as part of their coursework. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The students had studied “Becoming” as part of a class about black women developing public leadership skills. Spelman and Morehouse are two of Georgia’s nine accredited historically black colleges and universities.

“I’ve been to the mountaintop and I’ve seen it,” Obama told them, referencing a famous phrase from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “You’re deserving and worthy.”

Obama’s Atlanta stop is the second-to-last event on the second leg of her “Becoming” tour. 

After a Sunday night visit to Nashville — where late night TV host Stephen Colbert is slated to moderate — the former first lady will have made 21 stops in 2019. That follows an initial 12-stop run in late 2018.

Please return for updates.

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