How does a girl born to an ordinary working class family become a high-powered attorney and the first African-American First Lady of the United States?
This is the story of Michelle Obama. Ivy League Graduate. Lawyer. Writer Mother of Sasha and Malia. Wife of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.
Inspiration to every little black girl who dares to dream.
An ordinary beginning
Born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, January 17th, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. Michelle came from humble beginnings. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her mother was a homemaker and her father worked at the city’s water-purification plant. Michelle excelled academically, earning a spot at an Ivy League University, Princeton. After graduating from Princeton, she went to Harvard, earning her law degree.
An extraordinary legal career
After earning her law degree from Harvard, she returned to Chicago, where she took a law associate job at Sidley & Austin LLP. In 1989, while at the firm, she participated in the mentoring program, which allowed associates to mentor juniors. That same year, Michelle was assigned a new mentee. His name was Barack Obama, and he had recently joined the firm.
Although she was his mentor, Barack Obama asked Michelle on a date. After hesitation and delay, she finally relented. As they say, the rest is history. And an inspiring history it is.
From law office to the oval office (and beyond)
During her time at Sidley & Austin, Michelle was active in the community. She held the role of assistance commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall, became founding executive director of the Chicago Chapter of Public Allies. She also served as Associate Dean of Student Services at University of Chicago and Vice President of Community and External Affairs for University of Chicago Medical Center, where under her leadership, volunteerism skyrocketed.
The Obamas married in 1992 and welcomed their first child in 1998 and their second in 2001. In 2008, Barack was elected 44th President of the United States of America, with the help of Michelle, who campaigned for her husband 2007 and 2008. Once in the White House, Michelle Obama continued her efforts to support and inspire young people during her time as First Lady.
Michelle’s four main initiatives whilst First Lady:
*Let Girls Learn
After her role as first lady ended, Michelle has continued to lead and inspire.
Being wife of the most powerful man in the country has changed the shape and face of politics. When the media highlights successful black people, they often mention rags to riches stories. There are many of them. Stories, like Oprah Winfrey’s, marked by struggling childhood. But Michelle’s childhood was different than the typical black rags to riches stories we frequently hear. And this difference needs to be highlighted because it’s a story that doesn’t get the spotlight often. As mentioned above, Michelle came from a stable, working-class background. From a young age, her mother surrounded her with books. Michelle’s confidence was bolstered, and her mother is said to of consistently encouraged and reinforced Michelle’s intellectual development and proclivity. She was smart. And this was fostered throughout her childhood.
It’s important that we make note and acknowledge that there are stable black households with parents committed to their children’s outstanding upbringing. This is contrary to the mainstream story that we’re fed of dysfunctional black households. Michelle’s upbringing illuminates a positive black story rarely told.
The power of representation
The African-American community has been mostly excluded from politics and a sentiment of distrust has grown between the community and most government leadership. The Obama’s presence in the White House put a dent in this. Finally, people felt represented, heard, and connected with the family in the oval office.
I’ve seen countless black children and teenagers express their ambitions to enter the political arena simply because they witnessed the first black family in such a position of leadership. I’ve also heard children and young people express a sense of hope and limitless possibilities for themselves and their future, all because of the inspiration of this outstanding family. Michelle Obama has become a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, youth programs, and higher education.
I’ll close by featuring an inspiring video clip of Michelle Obama giving the 2015 commencement speech at Tuskegee University. Michelle touches on race, politics, and ambition.