Michelle Obama on Race, First Female President
PHOTO: US first lady Michelle Obama arrives during a kids state dinner in the East Room Room of the White House on July 9, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Two weeks before the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, first lady Michelle Obama says that having an African-American family in the White House "expands the scope of opportunity" for the next generation and has "absolutely" moved the needle when it comes to race in the United States.

"Children born in the last eight years will only know an African-American man being president of the United States," the first lady said in an interview with Parade Magazine. "That changes the bar for all of our children, regardless of their race, their sexual orientation, their gender."

Obama said she has "immense hope" going into the anniversary, as she reflected on her family's recent trip to South Africa and the leaders who have influenced her husband. "To come back to the United States, with an African-American president who has been influenced by both King and [Nelson] Mandela, that is a reason to be hopeful about all that Dr. King sacrificed," she said.

Looking ahead, the first lady said she thinks the country is ready to break another barrier and have a woman in the White House. "I think the country is ready for it. It's just a question of who's the best person out there," she said.

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Does she see her husband's foe-turned-friend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, getting that job? "She hasn't announced anything, so I'm certainly not going to get ahead of her," Obama said, laughing.

The first lady made one thing crystal clear: She will not be running for that position or any other.

Obama, who turns 50 in January, said she has "never felt more confident in myself, more clear on who I am as a woman."

"I am constantly thinking about my own health and making sure that I'm eating right and getting exercise and watching the aches and pains. I want to be this really fly 80-, 90-year old," the advocate for healthy living said.

And what about those famous bangs that she no longer sports? "You know, it's hard to make speeches with hair in your face," she said.

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