Michelle Obama

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Michelle Obama
Official portrait of Michelle Obama in the Green Room of the White House
Official portrait, February 2013
First Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byLaura Bush
Succeeded byMelania Trump
Personal details
Born
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson

(1964-01-17) January 17, 1964 (age 60)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Barack Obama (m. 1992)
Children
  • Malia
  • Sasha
Parents
Relatives
Education
Signature
Michelle Obama delivers remarks on Young African Women Leaders Forum from Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, Johannesburg
Recorded June 23, 2011

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer and author. She was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017 as the wife of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. She was also the first African-American first lady.

As first lady, Obama was a role model for women. She worked as an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating. She supported American designers and was considered a fashion icon.[1]

Biography[change | change source]

Early life and education[change | change source]

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois, to Fraser Robinson III,[2] a city water plant employee and Marian Shields Robinson.[3] Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Robinson entered high school.[4]

By sixth grade, Robinson attended Mawr Elementary School.[5] She attended Whitney Young High School,[6] where she was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, was a member of the National Honor Society and served as student council treasurer.[7] She graduated in 1981.

Career[change | change source]

Robinson enrolled into Princeton University in 1981.[8][9] She majored in sociology and minored in African-American studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985.[10][11][12]

While at Princeton, Robinson became involved with the Third World Center, an academic and cultural group who supported minority students. She ran their daycare center, which also offered after school tutoring for older children.[13]

As part of her requirements for graduation, she wrote a sociology thesis, titled Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.[14][15]

Robinson pursued professional study, earning her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1988.[16] At Harvard, Robinson participated in demonstrations advocating the hiring of professors who were members of minority groups.[17] She worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, assisting low-income tenants with housing cases.[18]

Post-law school career[change | change source]

Following law school, Obama became an associate at the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley & Austin, where she worked on marketing and property law.[19]

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.[20]

In 1996, Obama served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago.[21] In 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs and, beginning May 2005, as vice president for Community and External Affairs.[22]

Marriage and family[change | change source]

Robinson met Barack Obama when they were among the few African Americans at their law firm, Sidley Austin LLP.[23] Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting.[24]

They got married on October 3, 1992.[24] Their first daughter, Malia Ann was born in July 1998 and their second daughter, Sasha was born June 2001.[25]

First Lady, 2009–2017[change | change source]

Obama alongside her husband as he takes the presidential oath of office.

Obama became the first lady of the United States when her husband was sworn in as the 44th president on January 20, 2009. She became the first African-American first lady in American history.

As first lady, Obama visited homeless shelters and soup kitchens.[26] She also sent representatives to schools and advocated public service.[26][27]

Obama's initiatives as first lady were: Let's Move!, Reach Higher,[28] Let Girls Learn,[29] and Joining Forces.[30] Some initiatives included advocating for military families.[31][32] She made supporting military families and spouses a personal mission and increasingly bonded with military families.[32]

In January 2010, Obama started an initiative, which she named "Let's Move!", to make progress in reversing the 21st-century trend of childhood obesity.[33][34] On February 9, 2010, President Barack Obama created the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to review all current programs and create a national plan for change.[35]

Fashion influence[change | change source]

In 2010, she wore clothes, many high end, from more than fifty designer companies.[36] She wore sleeveless dresses by Michael Kors, and her ball gowns designed by Jason Wu for both inaugurals.[37] She has also been known for wearing clothes by African designers such as Mimi Plange, Duro Olowu, Maki Oh, and Osei Duro.[38][39]

Magazine covers[change | change source]

Obama appeared on the cover in the March 2009 issue of Vogue.[40][41] She later appeared two more times on the cover of Vogue, while first lady, the last time in December 2016, with photographs by Annie Leibovitz.[42] In August 2011, she became the first woman ever to appear on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.[43]

Life after the White House[change | change source]

In 2021, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[44]

Becoming[change | change source]

Obama's memoir, Becoming, was released in November 2018.[45] By November 2019, it had sold 11.5 million copies.[46] A documentary titled Becoming, which chronicles Obama's book tour promoting the memoir, was released on Netflix on May 6, 2020.[47][48] She received Grammy Award for Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording in 2020 for audio book.[49]

Podcast[change | change source]

In July 2020, she premiered a podcast titled The Michelle Obama Podcast.[50][51] In February 2021, Obama was announced as an executive producer and presenter on a children's cooking show, Waffles + Mochi.[52] It was released by Netflix on March 16, 2021.[53][54]

The Light We Carry[change | change source]

On July 21, 2022, it was announced that Obama's next book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, would be published in November 2022.[55] The book was published by Penguin Random House.[56] In 2023, Obama received a Emmy Award for the Netflix documentary film The Light We Carry: Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.[57]

Awards and honors[change | change source]

In November 2023, Obama was named to the BBC's 100 Women list.[58]

Writings[change | change source]

  • Obama, Michelle (2012). American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. New York: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-95602-6. OCLC 790271044.
  • Obama, Michelle (2018). Becoming. New York: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-5247-6313-8. OCLC 1030413521.
  • Obama, Michelle (2022). The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. New York: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9780593237465. OCLC 1336957651.[59]

References[change | change source]

Time magazine features an annual "Person of the Year" cover story in which Time recognizes the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest impact on news headlines over the previous twelve months. In 2020, the magazine decided to retroactively choose a historically deserving woman for each year in which a man had been named Person of the Year, reflecting the fact that a woman or women had been named Person of the Year only eleven times in the preceding hundred. As part of this review, Michelle Obama was named the Woman of the Year for 2008.[60]

  1. Bellantoni, Christina (April 10, 2009). "Michelle Obama settling in as a role model". The Washington Times. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
  2. Cite error: The named reference TFToMOtFL was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  3. Rossi, Rosalind (January 20, 2007). "The woman behind Obama". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on February 15, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  4. Slevin, Peter (March 18, 2009). "Mrs. Obama goes to Washington". Princeton Alumni Weekly. 109 (10): 18–22.
  5. Ross, Rosalind (November 10, 2008). "Kids at Michelle Obama's old school see reflection". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 14, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2008.
  6. West, Cassandra (September 1, 2004). "Her plan went awry, but Michelle Obama doesn't mind – Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  7. Cite error: The named reference womanbehind3 was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  8. Jacobs, Sally (June 15, 2008). "Learning to be Michelle Obama". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  9. Cite error: The named reference PAW20092 was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  10. Robinson, Michelle LaVaughn. Wallace, Walter; Princeton University. Department of Sociology (eds.). "Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community".
  11. Cite error: The named reference womanbehind4 was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  12. "Princeton sociologist Walter Wallace dies at age 88". Princeton University. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  13. Biography Today. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics. 2009. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7808-1052-5.
  14. Robinson, Michelle LaVaughn (1985), Sociology Department. "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community (96 pages). Archived May 27, 2019, at the Wayback Machine" Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University. (Thesis currently unavailable from this library; see next footnote for links to text.)
  15. Ressner, Jeffrey (February 22, 2008). "Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide". Politico. Retrieved April 19, 2008.
  16. Brown, Sarah (December 7, 2005). "Obama '85 Masters Balancing Act". Daily Princetonian. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  17. Wolffe, Richard (February 25, 2008). "Barack's Rock". Newsweek. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  18. "Biography Today", p. 117
  19. Gore, D'Angelo (June 14, 2012). "The Obamas' Law Licenses". FactCheck.org. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  20. Slevin, Peter (April 14, 2015). "Michelle Obama: Who she was before the White House". Archived from the original on January 12, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  21. "Obama named first Associate Dean of Student Services". University of Chicago Chronicle. 15 (19). June 6, 1996. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
  22. "Michelle Obama appointed vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals" (Press release). University of Chicago Medical Center. May 9, 2005. Archived from the original on August 12, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
  23. Mundy, Liza (October 5, 2008). "When Michelle Met Barack". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Fornek, Scott (October 3, 2007). "Michelle Obama: 'He Swept Me Off My Feet'". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  25. Springen, Karen & Jonathan Darman (January 29, 2007). "Ground Support". Newsweek. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Cite error: The named reference MIFOTS was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  27. Alter, Jonathan (March 7, 2009). "An Army of Changemakers". Newsweek. Retrieved April 6, 2009.
  28. "Reach Higher (@ReachHigher)". Retrieved January 11, 2019 – via Twitter.
  29. "Let Girls Learn | U.S. Agency for International Development". usaid.gov. Archived from the original on January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  30. "Joining Forces (@JoiningForces)". Retrieved January 11, 2019 – via Twitter.
  31. "First Lady Michelle Obama". WhiteHouse.gov. Archived from the original on April 7, 2010. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Walsh, Kenneth T. (March 26, 2009). "Michelle Obama Makes Military Families Her Mission: The first lady is often moved by accounts of personal sacrifice by service families". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
  33. Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (January 14, 2010). "After a Year of Learning, the First Lady Seeks Out a Legacy". The New York Times. p. A20. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  34. Darensbourg, Lauren (May 27, 2011). "Let's Move!". Letsmove.gov. Archived from the original on August 20, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  35. "White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President". Letsmove.gov. Archived from the original on April 13, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  36. Horyn, Cathy (December 28, 2012). "First in Fashion". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  37. Wilson, Eric (February 27, 2009). "Mrs. Obama in Kors". and "Mrs. Obama's Inaugural Wardrobe by Many Designers". The New York Times. January 21, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
  38. "Adire: The Love Affair Between Art And Fashion". Guardian. Lagos, Nigeria. July 12, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  39. "Alain Elkann interviews designer and curator Duro Olowu". Alain Elkann Interviews. April 9, 2017. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  40. Serjeant, Jill (February 11, 2009). "Michelle Obama graces cover of Vogue magazine". Reuters. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  41. "Michelle Obama makes Vogue cover". February 11, 2009. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  42. Liptak, Kevin (November 12, 2016). "Michelle Obama makes third Vogue cover appearance". CNN. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  43. "Better Homes and Gardens put first woman on its cover". Blogs.babycenter.com. July 22, 2011. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  44. "Michelle Obama, Mia Hamm chosen for Women's Hall of Fame". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Associated Press. March 9, 2021.
  45. Andrews-Dyer, Helena (February 25, 2018). "Michelle Obama's memoir, 'Becoming,' to be released in November". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  46. "Michelle Obama signs 'Becoming' copies on book's anniversary". Associated Press. November 19, 2019.
  47. Klar, Rebecca (April 27, 2020). "Michelle Obama documentary covering 'Becoming' book tour debuting on Netflix in May". The Hill. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  48. "Becoming review – tantalising tour of Michelle Obama's life". The Guardian. May 4, 2020.
  49. "Michelle Obama Wins Best Spoken Word Album | 2020 GRAMMYs". www.grammy.com.
  50. Goldberg, Melissa (July 24, 2020). "Michelle Obama Announces Her First Podcast Guest Is Husband Barack Obama". O, The Oprah Magazine.
  51. Grady, Constance (July 30, 2020). "The first episode of Michelle Obama's podcast proves it's fun to just hang out with the Obamas". Vox.
  52. Benveniste, Alexis (February 9, 2021). "Michelle Obama is launching a cooking show on Netflix". CNN Business. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  53. Horton, Adrian (March 16, 2021). "Waffles + Mochi review – Michelle Obama's charming puppet series". The Guardian. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  54. Hadero, Haleluya (March 16, 2021). "Michelle Obama aims to give a million meals in new campaign". Associated Press. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  55. Shaffi, Sarah (July 21, 2022). "Michelle Obama announces second book: 'a toolbox to stay centred'". The Guardian. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  56. Bennett, Kate (July 21, 2022). "Spurred by world's 'uncertainty,' Michelle Obama announces new book". CNN. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  57. "Outstanding Informational Series Or Special Nominees / Winners 2023". Television Academy.
  58. "BBC 100 Women 2023: Who is on the list this year?". BBC News. November 23, 2023. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  59. Reviews:
  60. Budryk, Zack (March 5, 2020). "Time revisits 100 years of 'Person of the Year' covers to honor overlooked women". The Hill. Retrieved August 18, 2020.