With Barack Obama becoming the 44th President of the United States, his wife Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama became the first African-American First Lady. Barack will win reelection and thus serve two terms (2009-2017).
Michelle is a formidable person in her own right. She is a lawyer and author born on January 17, 1964 to Fraser Robinson III and Marian Shields Robinson in Chicago, Illinois alongside elder brother Craig Robinson.
Michelle’s father was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department and a Democratic precinct captain while Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother Craig, although she became a secretary at Spiegel’s catalog store when Michelle entered high school.
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The Robinsons lived in a brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago and were raised with an emphasis on education. Both Michelle and her brother learned to read at home by age four.
Michelle went on to attend Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, the city’s first magnet high school for gifted children, and graduated from the school as class salutatorian 1981.
Following in her older brother’s footsteps, Michelle attended Princeton University. She majored in sociology and minored in African-American studies, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985. She is also a Harvard Law School product.
In her early legal career, Michelle worked at the law firm – Sidley Austin – where she met Barack Obama. Initially, she refused to date Barack, eventually she relented and after two years of dating, Barack proposed. The pair married in 1992. The union has produced two daughters Malia Ann and Natasha conceived through vitro fertilization after she suffered a miscarriage.
Michelle has worked in non-profits and as the associate dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago, as well as, the vice president for Community and External Affairs of the University of Chicago Medical Center.
In 1991, she held public sector positions in the Chicago city government as an Assistant to the Mayor, and as Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development. In 1993, she became Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit organization encouraging young people to work on social issues in nonprofit groups and government agencies.
The Robinson and Shields families trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South. Her distant ancestry includes Irish, English, and Native American roots.
Her father suffered from multiple sclerosis, which had a profound emotional effect on her as she was growing up. He passed in 1991 aged 55.
Throughout her husband’s 2008 campaign for US President, Michelle Obama made a “commitment to be away overnight only once a week – to campaign only two days a week and be home by the end of the second day” for their two daughters.
While Michelle was raised United Methodist, she joined the Trinity United Church of Christ. She and Obama were married in the church by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, however, they withdrew membership saying: “Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views.”
In November 6, 2012, Barack was re-elected for a second term as U.S. president. Michelle accompanied her husband with their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, onto the stage at McCormick Place in Chicago, where President Obama delivered his victory speech.
Michelle Obama’s legacy includes being an advocate for the arts, education and nutrition; rolling campaigns to combat childhood obesity.