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Michelle Obama, Lisa Leslie...and Clair Huxtable.

How cool is it that Lisa Leslie was invited to stand with Michelle Obama in inspiring black girls in DC's predominately black Anacostia High School to reach their potential as leaders?

This is not necessarily important in terms of pure basketball news, but I think once again highlights the political importance of the WNBA.

Way back in the 80's, Clair Huxtable (aka Phylicia Rashad) was easily one of the most prominent black female role models in the mainstream. She was damn near perfect -- a brilliant lawyer, who didn't take anything from her husband, and simultaneously managed to keep the household together despite Cliff's aloofness...

While I fully recognize the harm of the black superwoman image in pop culture, Clair also represented a "black career woman", something I would argue society still struggles to comprehend today. Although the Cosby show was not perfect -- it was clearly more of a black middle class fantasy than a representation of how much progress the "average" black family was -- and Clair sets up these ridiculous expectations for what it means to be a successful black female professional, Clair Huxtable was as important a figure as any in pop culture.

This is what makes Michelle Obama so important -- the mainstream no longer has to draw upon fantasy to find images of strong, intelligent, black women who do not define themselves by their families, even if they choose to take care of them.

So when I saw that Michelle Obama, Phylicia Rashad, and Lisa Leslie -- among others -- have come together to encourage young girls in the predominately black DC public schools to see themselves as leaders -- however they may choose to do so -- I was even more enamored with Michelle as a black public figure. She has fully embraced this role as a public figure role model and making a huge statement in her willingness to connect DC's local issues to a broader national agenda.

The significance of this event is not only that Michelle Obama is a relatively powerful black woman using her position to make a statement, but also that she would even visit Anacostia High School, a "failing school" in DC that most national politicians would just ignore...and really aren't expected to do anything beyond that.

How many even first ladies (or presidents for that matter) even know where Anacostia High School is way down there at the end of the green line, let alone are willing to go? Even for the leftists out there who see Mr. Obama as too centrist for their liking, this represents a powerful commitment to doing something different while occupying the White House.

But what's more is the group of black women she assembled for this event:

The group included Grammy Award-winning singers Alicia Keyes and Sheryl Crow, actresses and sisters Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad, actress Fran Drescher, Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes, WNBA star Lisa Leslie Lockwood and Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel into space. Also participating were Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the first woman to achieve the four-star rank; actresses Alfre Woodard, Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross; and Debra Lee, president and CEO of the parent company of the BET cable network.

She didn't just grab political friends, or doctors, or entertainers, but is communicating a clear message that there are multiple ways to be a successful black woman.

Lisa Leslie's involvement is what caught my eye and her willingness to embrace her role as a black female role model is also impressive. However, when we put her in broader context of this group Michelle Obama has assembled, I think we understand a bit better how important the WNBA is in the context of women's history month; it's not just about equitable access to professional athletics in society, but part of a broader movement in shifting how we see black womanhood in this country.

So while the message of individual responsibility and hard work is problematic and I know as well as anyone that speaking engagements will likely not end up changing DC Public Schools, I applaud Obama, Leslie, Rashad, et al. for making this effort. And I am particularly impressed by Obama's recognition of herself within a historical continuum of black women who push to expand the boundaries of black womanhood.