Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

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Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States
First Lady of the United States
First Lady of the United States is the title of the hostess of the White House. Because this position is traditionally filled by the wife of the president of the United States, the title is most often applied to the wife of a sitting president. The current first lady is Michelle Obama.-Current:The...

. Raised on the South Side
South Side (Chicago)
The South Side is a major part of the City of Chicago, which is located in Cook County, Illinois, United States. Much of it has evolved from the city's incorporation of independent townships, such as Hyde Park Township which voted along with several other townships to be annexed in the June 29,...

 of Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Obama attended Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 and Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

 before returning to Chicago and to work at the law firm Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin LLP, formerly known as Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, is one of the oldest law firms in the world. It is the sixth-largest U.S.-based corporate law firm with more than 1,650 lawyers, annual revenues of more than one billion dollars, and offices in 17 cities worldwide, with the most...

, where she met her future husband. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor
Mayor of Chicago
The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive of Chicago, Illinois, the third largest city in the United States. He or she is charged with directing city departments and agencies, and with the advice and consent of the Chicago City Council, appoints department and agency leaders.-Appointment...

 Richard M. Daley
Richard M. Daley
Richard Michael Daley is a United States politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party, and former Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. He was the longest serving Chicago mayor, surpassing the tenure of his...

, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, she helped campaign for her husband's presidential bid and delivered a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
2008 Democratic National Convention
The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

. She is the mother of two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and is the sister of Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson (basketball coach)
Craig Malcolm Robinson is an American college basketball coach and the current head men's basketball coach at Oregon State University. He was previously the head coach at Brown University. He was a star forward as a player at Princeton University in the early 1980s and a bond trader during the...

, men's basketball coach at Oregon State University
Oregon State University
Oregon State University is a coeducational, public research university located in Corvallis, Oregon, United States. The university offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees and a multitude of research opportunities. There are more than 200 academic degree programs offered through the...

. As the wife of a Senator, and later the First Lady, she has become a fashion icon and role model for women, and an advocate for poverty awareness and healthy eating.

Family and education



Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, to Fraser Robinson III, a city water plant employee and Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 precinct captain
Precinct captain
A precinct captain is an individual who acts as the direct link between a political party organization and the voters in an election precinct...

, and Marian (née Shields), a secretary at Spiegel's catalog store. Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Michelle entered high school. The Robinson and Shields families can trace their roots to pre-Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 African Americans in the American South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

. Specifically, her roots can be traced to the Gullah
Gullah
The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands....

 people from South Carolina's Lowcountry region. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was an American slave in the state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, where some of her paternal family still reside. Her maternal great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields, also a slave, became pregnant by a white man. His name and the nature of their union have been lost. She gave birth to Michelle's biracial maternal great-great grandfather, Dolphus T. Shields.

Michelle grew up in a two-story house on Euclid Street in Chicago's South Shore
South Shore, Chicago
South Shore is one of 77 well-defined community areas of the City of Chicago, Illinois in the United States. A predominately black neighborhood located along Chicago's southern lakefront, it is a relatively stable and gentrifying neighborhood...

 community area
Community areas of Chicago
Community areas in Chicago refers to the work of the Social Science Research Committee at University of Chicago which has unofficially divided the City of Chicago into 77 community areas. These areas are well-defined and static...

. Her parents rented a small apartment on the house's second floor from her great-aunt, who lived downstairs. She was raised in what she describes as a "conventional" home, with "the mother at home, the father works, you have dinner around the table". The family entertained together by playing games such as Monopoly and by reading. They attended services at nearby South Shore Methodist Church. The Robinsons used to vacation in a rustic cabin in White Cloud, Michigan
White Cloud, Michigan
White Cloud is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 1,408. It is the county seat of Newaygo County.-Geography:...

. She and her brother, Craig
Craig Robinson (basketball coach)
Craig Malcolm Robinson is an American college basketball coach and the current head men's basketball coach at Oregon State University. He was previously the head coach at Brown University. He was a star forward as a player at Princeton University in the early 1980s and a bond trader during the...

 (who is 21 months older), skipped the second grade. By sixth grade, Michelle joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School (later renamed Bouchet Academy).

She attended Whitney Young High School, Chicago's first magnet high school
Magnet school
In education in the United States, magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. "Magnet" refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities as school zones that feed into certain schools.There are magnet schools at the...

, where she was a classmate of Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to...

's daughter Santita. The round trip commute from the Robinsons' South Side home to the Near West Side
Near West Side, Chicago
The Near West Side, one of the 77 defined community areas of Chicago, is located , adjacent to the downtown central business district . The rich history of the Near West Side of Chicago has its genesis in the Hull House phenomenon...

, where the school was located, took three hours. She was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, a member of the National Honor Society
National Honor Society
The National Honor Society is a recognition program for high school students in grades 10-12 in the United States and in several other countries...

 and served as student council
Student council
Student council is a curricular or extra-curricular activity for students within elementary and secondary schools around the world. Present in most public and private K-12 school systems across the United States, Canada and Australia these bodies are alternatively entitled student council, student...

 treasurer. Obama graduated in 1981 as the salutatorian
Salutatorian
Salutatorian is an academic title given, in the United States and Canada, to the second highest graduate of the entire graduating class of a specific discipline. Only the valedictorian is ranked higher. This honor is traditionally based on grade point average and number of credits taken, but...

 of her class.

Michelle was inspired to follow her brother to Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

; he graduated in 1983. At Princeton, she challenged the teaching methodology for French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 because she felt that it should be more conversational. As part of her requirements for graduation, she wrote a thesis entitled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." "I remember being shocked," she says, "by college students who drove BMW
BMW
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the Mini marque, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna brands...

s. I didn't even know parents who drove BMWs." While at Princeton, she got involved with the Third World Center (now known as the Carl A. Fields Center), an academic and cultural group that supported minority students, running their day care center which also included after school tutoring. Robinson majored in sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 and minored in African American studies
African American studies
African American studies is a subset of Black studies or Africana studies. It is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to the study of the history, culture, and politics of African Americans...

 and graduated cum laude
Latin honors
Latin honors are Latin phrases used to indicate the level of academic distinction with which an academic degree was earned. This system is primarily used in the United States, Canada, and in many countries of continental Europe, though some institutions also use the English translation of these...

with a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in 1985. She earned her Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

 in 1988. At Harvard she participated in demonstrations advocating the hiring of professors who were members of minorities and worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau
Harvard Legal Aid Bureau
The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau is the oldest student-run legal services office in the country, founded in 1913. Located at 23 Everett Street in Cambridge, MA, the Bureau's mission is to provide an important community service while giving student attorneys the opportunity to develop professional...

, assisting low-income tenants with housing cases. She is the third First Lady with a postgraduate degree
Postgraduate education
Postgraduate education involves learning and studying for degrees or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree generally is required, and is normally considered to be part of higher education...

, after her two immediate predecessors, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 and Laura Bush
Laura Bush
Laura Lane Welch Bush is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001, to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest...

. In July 2008, Obama accepted the invitation to become an honorary member of the 100-year-old black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha is the first Greek-lettered sorority established and incorporated by African American college women. The sorority was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., by a group of nine students, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle...

, which had no active undergraduate chapter at Princeton when she attended.


She met Barack Obama when they were among the few African Americans at their law firm, Sidley Austin (she has sometimes said only two, although others have pointed out there were others in different departments), and she was assigned to mentor him as a summer associate. Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization
Community organization
Community organizations are civil society non-profits that operate within a single local community. They are essentially a subset of the wider group of nonprofits. Like other nonprofits they are often run on a voluntary basis and are self funded...

 meeting where he first impressed her. The couple's first date was to the Spike Lee
Spike Lee
Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983....

 movie Do the Right Thing
Do the Right Thing
Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American dramedy produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee, who is also a featured actor in the film. Other members of the cast include Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, and John Turturro. It is also notably the...

. They married in October 1992, and have two daughters, Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha, born 2001). After his election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago's South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 Throughout her husband's 2008 campaign
Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008
Barack Obama, then junior United States Senator from Illinois, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois, on February 10, 2007. On August 27, 2008, he was declared nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2008 presidential election...

 for President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, she 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 children. She is the sister of Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson (basketball coach)
Craig Malcolm Robinson is an American college basketball coach and the current head men's basketball coach at Oregon State University. He was previously the head coach at Brown University. He was a star forward as a player at Princeton University in the early 1980s and a bond trader during the...

, men's basketball coach at Oregon State University
Oregon State University
Oregon State University is a coeducational, public research university located in Corvallis, Oregon, United States. The university offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees and a multitude of research opportunities. There are more than 200 academic degree programs offered through the...

 and first cousin, once removed, of Rabbi Capers C. Funnye Jr.
Capers C. Funnye Jr.
Capers C. Funnye Jr. is an African American who is the head rabbi of the mostly African-American 200 member Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago, Illinois, as assisted by Rabbis Avraham Ben Israel and Joshua V. Salter...

, one of the country’s most prominent black rabbis.

She once requested that her then-fiancé meet her prospective boss, Valerie Jarrett
Valerie Jarrett
Valerie Bowman Jarrett is a senior advisor and assistant to the president for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama administration. She is a Chicago lawyer, businesswoman, and civic leader...

, when considering her first career move. Now, Jarrett is one of her husband’s closest advisors. The marital relationship has had its ebbs and flows; the combination of an evolving family life and beginning political career led to many arguments about balancing work and family. Barack Obama wrote in his second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, that "Tired and stressed, we had little time for conversation, much less romance". However, despite their family obligations and careers, they continue to attempt to schedule date nights.

The Obamas' daughters attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools is a private, co-educational day school in Chicago, Illinois. It is affiliated with the University of Chicago...

, a private school. As a member of the school's board, Michelle fought to maintain diversity in the school when other board members connected with the University of Chicago tried to reserve more slots for children of the university faculty. This resulted in a plan to expand the school. Malia and Sasha now attend Sidwell Friends School
Sidwell Friends School
Sidwell Friends School is a Quaker private school located in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, D.C., offering pre-kindergarten through secondary school classes. Founded in 1883 by Thomas Sidwell, its motto is "Eluceat omnibus lux" , alluding to the Quaker concept of inner light...

 in Washington, after also considering Georgetown Day School
Georgetown Day School
Georgetown Day School is a pre-K-12 private preparatory school in Washington, D.C..-History:GDS was founded in 1945 as the first integrated school in the District of Columbia.-Academics:...

. Michelle stated in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
The Ellen DeGeneres Show, often shortened to Ellen, is an American television talk show hosted by comedian/actress Ellen DeGeneres. Debuting on September 8, 2003, it is produced by Telepictures and airs in syndication, including stations owned by NBC Universal. For its first five seasons, the show...

that they do not intend to have any more children. The Obamas have received advice from past first ladies Laura Bush
Laura Bush
Laura Lane Welch Bush is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001, to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest...

, Rosalynn Carter
Rosalynn Carter
Eleanor Rosalynn Carter is the wife of the former President of the United States Jimmy Carter and in that capacity served as the First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981. As First Lady and after, she has been a leading advocate for numerous causes, perhaps most prominently for mental...

 and Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 about raising children in the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

. Marian Robinson, Michelle's mother, has moved into the White House to assist with child care.

Career


Following law school, she was an associate at the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin LLP, formerly known as Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, is one of the oldest law firms in the world. It is the sixth-largest U.S.-based corporate law firm with more than 1,650 lawyers, annual revenues of more than one billion dollars, and offices in 17 cities worldwide, with the most...

, where she first met her future husband. At the firm, she worked on marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 and intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

. She continues to hold her law license, but as she no longer needs it for her work, it has been on a voluntary inactive status since 1993.

In 1991, she held public sector
Public sector
The public sector, sometimes referred to as the state sector, is a part of the state that deals with either the production, delivery and allocation of goods and services by and for the government or its citizens, whether national, regional or local/municipal.Examples of public sector activity range...

 positions in the Chicago city government as an Assistant to the Mayor
Mayor of Chicago
The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive of Chicago, Illinois, the third largest city in the United States. He or she is charged with directing city departments and agencies, and with the advice and consent of the Chicago City Council, appoints department and agency leaders.-Appointment...

, 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
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

 encouraging young people to work on social issues in nonprofit groups and government agencies. She worked there nearly four years and set fundraising
Fundraising
Fundraising or fund raising is the process of soliciting and gathering voluntary contributions as money or other resources, by requesting donations from individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies...

 records for the organization that still stood 12 years after she left.

In 1996, she served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, where she developed the University's Community Service Center. 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. She continued to hold the University of Chicago Hospitals position during the primary campaign, but cut back to part time in order to spend time with her daughters as well as work for her husband's election; she subsequently took a leave of absence from her job. According to the couple’s 2006 income tax return
Tax return (United States)
Tax returns in the United States are reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service or with the state or local tax collection agency containing information used to calculate income tax or other taxes...

, her salary was $273,618 from the University of Chicago Hospitals, while her husband had a salary of $157,082 from the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. The Obamas' total income, however, was $991,296, which included $51,200 she earned as a member of the board of directors
Board of directors
A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. Other names include board of governors, board of managers, board of regents, board of trustees, and board of visitors...

 of TreeHouse Foods, and investments and royalties from his books.

She served as a salaried board member of TreeHouse Foods, Inc. , a major Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

 supplier with whom she cut ties immediately after her husband made comments critical of Wal-Mart at an AFL-CIO
AFL-CIO
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly AFL–CIO, is a national trade union center, the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of 56 national and international unions, together representing more than 11 million workers...

 forum in Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton is the capital of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913...

, on May 14, 2007. She serves on the board of directors of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

2008 Presidential election



Although Obama has campaigned on her husband's behalf since early in his political career by handshaking and fund-raising, she did not relish the activity at first. When she campaigned during her husband's 2000 run for United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, her boss at the University of Chicago asked if there was any single thing about campaigning that she enjoyed; after some thought, she replied that visiting so many living rooms had given her some new decorating ideas.

At first, Obama had reservations about her husband's presidential campaign, due to fears about a possible negative effect on their daughters. She says that she negotiated an agreement in which her husband was to give up smoking in exchange for her support of his decision to run. About her role in her husband's presidential campaign she has said: "My job is not a senior adviser." During the campaign, she has discussed race and education by using motherhood as a framework.

In May 2007, three months after her husband declared his presidential candidacy, she reduced her professional responsibilities by 80 percent to support his presidential campaign. Early in the campaign, she had limited involvement in which she traveled to political events only two days a week and traveled overnight only if their daughters could come along; by early February 2008 her participation had increased significantly, attending thirty-three events in eight days. She made several campaign appearances with Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

. She wrote her own stump speeches
Stump speech (politics)
A political stump speech is a standard speech used by a politician running for office. The term derives from the custom in 19th century America for political candidates campaigning from town to town to stand upon a sawed off tree stump to deliver a standard speech...

 for her husband's presidential campaign and generally spoke without notes.

Throughout the campaign, the media often labeled her as an "angry black woman," and some Web sites attempted to propagate this image, prompting her to respond: "Barack and I have been in the public eye for many years now, and we've developed a thick skin along the way. When you’re out campaigning, there will always be criticism. I just take it in stride, and at the end of the day, I know that it comes with the territory." By the time of the 2008 Democratic National Convention
2008 Democratic National Convention
The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

 in August, media outlets observed that her presence on the campaign trail had grown softer than at the start of the race, focusing on soliciting concerns and empathizing with the audience rather than throwing down challenges to them, and giving interviews to shows like The View and publications like Ladies' Home Journal
Ladies' Home Journal
Ladies' Home Journal is an American magazine which first appeared on February 16, 1883, and eventually became one of the leading women's magazines of the 20th century in the United States...

rather than appearing on news programs. The change was even reflected in her fashion choices, wearing more informal clothes in place of her previous designer pieces. The View appearance was partly intended to help soften her public image, and it was widely-covered in the press.

The presidential campaign was her first exposure to the national political scene; even before the field of Democratic candidates was narrowed to two, she was considered the least famous of the candidates' spouses. Early in the campaign, she told anecdotes about the Obama family life; however, as the press began to emphasize her sarcasm, she toned it down. New York Times op-ed
Editorial
An opinion piece is an article, published in a newspaper or magazine, that mainly reflects the author's opinion about the subject. Opinion pieces are featured in many periodicals.-Editorials:...

 columnist Maureen Dowd
Maureen Dowd
Maureen Bridgid Dowd is a Washington D.C.-based columnist for The New York Times and best-selling author. During the 1970s and the early 1980s, she worked for Time magazine and the Washington Star, where she covered news as well as sports and wrote feature articles...

 wrote:

On the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention
2008 Democratic National Convention
The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

, Craig Robinson introduced his younger sister. She delivered her speech, during which she sought to portray herself and her family as the embodiment of the American Dream
American Dream
The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each...

. Obama said both she and her husband believed "that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them." She also emphasized loving her country, in response to criticism for her previous statements about feeling proud of her country for the first time. That keynote address was largely well received and drew mostly positive reviews. A Rasmussen Reports
Rasmussen Reports
Rasmussen Reports is an American media company that publishes and distributes information based on public opinion polling. Founded by pollster Scott Rasmussen in 2003, the company updates daily indexes including the President's job approval rating, and provides public opinion data, analysis, and...

 poll found that her favorability among Americans reached 55%.

On an October 6, 2008 broadcast, Larry King
Larry King
Lawrence Harvey "Larry" King is an American television and radio host whose work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and ten Cable ACE Awards....

 asked her if the American electorate was past the Bradley effect
Bradley effect
The Bradley effect, less commonly called the Wilder effect, is a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some United States government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other...

. She stated that her husband's achievement of the nomination was a fairly strong indicator that it was. The same night she also was interviewed by Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian...

 on the Daily Show where she deflected criticism of her husband and his campaign. On Fox News' America's Pulse, E. D. Hill
E. D. Hill
E. D. Hill is an American businessperson and journalist. She has been a news anchor and radio host who formerly worked for the Fox News Channel and now works with CNN...

 referred to the fist bump shared by the Obamas on the night that he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination
Barack Obama presidential primary campaign, 2008
On February 10, 2007, Barack Obama, then junior United States Senator from Illinois, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois. On June 3, 2008, he secured enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2008...

 as a "terrorist fist jab"; Hill was taken off air and the show itself was cancelled.

First Lady of the United States



Public image and style


With the ascent of her husband as a prominent national politician, Michelle Obama has become a part of popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

. In May 2006, Essence
Essence (magazine)
Essence is a monthly magazine for African-American women between the ages of 18 and 49. The magazine covers fashion, lifestyle and beauty with an intimate girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone.-History:...

listed her among "25 of the World's Most Inspiring Women." In July 2007, Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair (magazine)
Vanity Fair is a magazine of pop culture, fashion, and current affairs published by Condé Nast. The present Vanity Fair has been published since 1983 and there have been editions for four European countries as well as the U.S. edition. This revived the title which had ceased publication in 1935...

listed her among "10 of the World's Best Dressed People." She was an honorary guest at Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball
Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball
Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball was a three-day celebration held by Oprah Winfrey honoring twenty-five African American women in art, entertainment, and civil rights....

 as a "young'un" paying tribute to the 'Legends,' which helped pave the way for African American Women. In September 2007, 02138
02138
02138 was an independent magazine founded by Bom Kim and purchased by David Bradley; it featured graduates of Harvard University. The publication was, however, not actually affiliated with Harvard. The title is a reference to the ZIP code of Harvard University's main campus in Harvard Square,...

magazine listed her 58th of 'The Harvard 100'; a list of the prior year's most influential Harvard alumni. Her husband was ranked fourth. In July 2008, she made a repeat appearance on the Vanity Fair international best dressed list. She also appeared on the 2008 People
People (magazine)
In 1998, the magazine introduced a version targeted at teens called Teen People. However, on July 27, 2006, the company announced it would shut down publication of Teen People immediately. The last issue to be released was scheduled for September 2006. Subscribers to this magazine received...

list of best-dressed women and was praised by the magazine for her "classic and confident" look.

At the time of her husband's election, some sources anticipated that as a high-profile African-American woman in a stable marriage she would be a positive role model who would influence the view the world has of African-Americans. Her fashion choices were part of the 2009 Fashion week
Fashion Week
A fashion week is a fashion industry event, lasting approximately one week, which allows fashion designers, brands or "houses" to display their latest collections in runway shows and buyers and the media to take a look at the latest trends. Most importantly, these events let the industry know...

, but Obama's influence in the field did not have the impact on the paucity of African-American models who participate, that some thought it might.

She has been compared to Jacqueline Kennedy due to her sense of style, and also to Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush
Barbara Pierce Bush is the wife of the 41st President of the United States George H. W. Bush, and served as First Lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993. She is the mother of the 43rd President George W. Bush and of the 43rd Governor of Florida Jeb Bush...

 for her discipline and decorum. Her white, one-shoulder Jason Wu
Jason Wu
Jason Wu is a Manhattan-based Taiwanese American fashion designer.-Biography:Born in Taiwan, Wu moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at age nine and attended Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts and Loomis Chaffee, in Windsor ,Connecticut. He learned how to sew by designing and...

 2009 inaugural gown was said to be "an unlikely combination of Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989....

 and Jackie Kennedy". Obama's style is described as populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

. She often wears clothes by designers Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein
Calvin Richard Klein is an American fashion designer who launched the company that would later become Calvin Klein Inc. in 1968. In addition to clothing, Klein has also given his name to a range of perfumes, watches, and jewelry....

, Isabel Toledo
Isabel Toledo
Isabel Toledo is a Cuban-American fashion designer based in New York.-Personal life:Isabel Toledo was born in Cuba and moved to New Jersey where she attended high school and met her future husband and collaborator, Ruben Toledo...

, Narciso Rodriguez
Narciso Rodriguez
Narciso Rodriguez III is an American fashion designer.Rodriguez is the first child and only son of Cuban parents Narciso Rodríguez II, a longshoreman, and Rawedia María Rodríguez who are of Canarian descent. He grew up in Newark, New Jersey. His parents were against Narciso entering fashion: "They...

, Donna Ricco
Donna Ricco
Donna Ricco is an American fashion designer who heads a company of the same name.Ricco was born and raised in Milwaukee, and studied Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee for three years before transferring to the fashion department of neighboring Mount Mary College...

 and Maria Pinto, and has become a fashion trendsetter, in particular her favoring of sleeveless dresses that showcase her toned arms.

She appeared on the cover and in a photo spread in the March 2009 issue of Vogue
Vogue (magazine)
Vogue is a fashion and lifestyle magazine that is published monthly in 18 national and one regional edition by Condé Nast.-History:In 1892 Arthur Turnure founded Vogue as a weekly publication in the United States. When he died in 1909, Condé Montrose Nast picked up the magazine and slowly began...

. Every First Lady since Lou Hoover (except Bess Truman
Bess Truman
Bess Truman , was the wife of Harry S. Truman and First Lady of the United States from 1945 to 1953.-Early life:...

) has been in Vogue, but only Hillary Clinton had previously appeared on the cover.

The media have been criticized for focusing more on the first lady's fashion sense than her serious contributions. She has stated that she would like to focus attention as First Lady on issues of concern to military and working families. U.S.News & World Report blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

ger, PBS host and Scripps Howard columnist Bonnie Erbe
Bonnie Erbe
Bonnie Erbé is an American journalist and television host based in the Washington, D.C. area who has covered national politics since 1975. She attended Barnard College where she received her bachelors degree. She later received her MSJ from Columbia University School of Journalism and her J.D...

 has argued that Obama's own publicists seem to be feeding the emphasis on style over substance. Erbe has stated on several occasions that she is miscasting herself by overemphasizing style.

Work undertaken and causes promoted


During her early months as First Lady, she visited homeless shelter
Homeless shelter
Homeless shelters are temporary residences for homeless people which seek to protect vulnerable populations from the often devastating effects of homelessness while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact on the community...

s and soup kitchen
Soup kitchen
A soup kitchen, a bread line, or a meal center is a place where food is offered to the hungry for free or at a reasonably low price. Frequently located in lower-income neighborhoods, they are often staffed by volunteer organizations, such as church groups or community groups...

s. She also sent representatives to schools and advocated public service. On her first trip abroad in April 2009, she toured a cancer ward with Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown (spouse)
Sarah Brown is the wife of Gordon Brown, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She is also the founding partner of Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications, a public relations company.-Early life:...

, wife of British Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

. She has begun advocating on behalf of military families. Like her predecessors Clinton and Bush, who supported the organic movement
Organic movement
The organic movement broadly refers to the organizations and individuals involved worldwide in the promotion of organic farming, which is a more sustainable mode of agriculture...

 by instructing the White House kitchens to buy organic food
Organic food
Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.For the...

, Obama has received attention by planting an organic garden and installing bee hives on the South Lawn of the White House, which will supply organic produce and honey to the First Family and for state dinners and other official gatherings.

Obama has become an advocate of her husband's policy priorities by promoting bills that support it. Following the enactment of the Pay equity law, Obama hosted a White House reception for women's rights advocates in celebration. She has pronounced her support for the economic stimulus bill in visits to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, is a Cabinet department in the Executive branch of the United States federal government...

 and United States Department of Education
United States Department of Education
The United States Department of Education, also referred to as ED or the ED for Education Department, is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government...

. Some observers have looked favorably upon her legislative activities, while others have said that she should be less involved in politics. According to her representatives, she intends to visit all United States Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

-level agencies in order to get acquainted with Washington.

She gained growing public support in her early months as first lady. She is notable for her support from military families and some Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. As the public is growing accustomed to her, she is becoming more accepted as a role model
Role model
The term role model generally means any "person who serves as an example, whose behaviour is emulated by others".The term first appeared in Robert K. Merton's socialization research of medical students...

. Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

described her first trip abroad as an exhibition of her so-called "star power" and MSN
MSN
MSN is a collection of Internet sites and services provided by Microsoft. The Microsoft Network debuted as an online service and Internet service provider on August 24, 1995, to coincide with the release of the Windows 95 operating system.The range of services offered by MSN has changed since its...

 described it as an display of sartorial elegance. There were questions raised in the American and British media regarding protocol
Protocol (diplomacy)
In international politics, protocol is the etiquette of diplomacy and affairs of state.A protocol is a rule which guides how an activity should be performed, especially in the field of diplomacy. In diplomatic services and governmental fields of endeavor protocols are often unwritten guidelines...

 when the Obamas met Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

, and Michelle reciprocated a touch on her back by the Queen during a reception, purportedly against traditional royal etiquette. Palace sources denied that any breach in etiquette had occurred.

On June 5, 2009, the White House announced that Michelle Obama was replacing her current chief of staff, Jackie Norris
Jackie Norris
Jackie Norris was President Barack Obama's Iowa State Director during the 2008 presidential election. Norris served as First Lady Michelle Obama's Chief of Staff during the early months of the Obama presidency...

, with Susan Sher, a longtime friend and adviser. Norris will become a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service
Corporation For National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and other national service initiatives...

. Then in February 2010, the resignation of White House Social Secretary
White House Social Secretary
The White House Social Secretary is responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of official social events at the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States.-Function:...

, Desiree Rogers
Desirée Rogers
Desirée Glapion Rogers is an American business executive who is the Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Publishing Company. In November 2008 she was selected by Barack Obama's office as the White House Social Secretary for the incoming administration, the first person of African American descent...

 was announced to be effective the following month. Rogers had been at odds with other administration officials, such as David Axelrod
David Axelrod
David Axelrod may refer to:* David Axelrod * David Axelrod , Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama* David B. Axelrod , poet and educator...

, and then the White House State Dinner snafu
2009 U.S. state dinner security breaches
On November 24, 2009, Michaele and Tareq Salahi , a married couple from Virginia, and Carlos Allen , attended a White House state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, allegedly without being invited guests. The Salahis and Allen arrived separately and did not appear to have colluded in...

 occurred on November 24, 2009. Rogers was replaced by Julianna Smoot
Julianna Smoot
Julianna Smoot is the Deputy Manager of Barack Obama's 2012 presidential reelection campaign, having previously served as White House Social Secretary, Deputy Assistant to the President., and Chief of Staff to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Smoot previously served as a professional...

.

After a year as First Lady, she undertook her first lead role in an administrationwide initiative. Her goal was to make progress in reversing the 21st century trend of childhood obesity
Childhood obesity
Childhood obesity is a condition where excess body fat negatively affects a child's health or wellbeing. As methods to determine body fat directly are difficult, the diagnosis of obesity is often based on BMI. Due to the rising prevalence of obesity in children and its many adverse health effects...

. She stated that her goal is to make this effort her legacy: "I want to leave something behind that we can say, ‘Because of this time that this person spent here, this thing has changed.’ And my hope is that that’s going to be in the area of childhood obesity." She has named the movement "Let's Move!
Let's Move!
Let's Move! is a campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States. The campaign was started by First Lady Michelle Obama. The initiative has the goal of "solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight."The...

". This effort does not supplant her other efforts: supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, promoting the arts and arts education, and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country. She has earned widespread publicity on the topic of healthy eating by planting the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

 served as first lady.

External links


  • First Lady Michelle Obama at Whitehouse.gov
    Whitehouse.gov
    Whitehouse.gov is the official website of the White House and is owned by the United States government. Launched in October 1994, it contains general American history information, as well as current news pertaining to the President, press briefings, proclamations, executive orders, and any speeches...

  • "Meet Michelle" at BarackObama.com
  • Michelle Obama collected news and commentary at Chicago Tribune
    Chicago Tribune
    The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

  • Michelle Obama collected news and commentary at U.S.News & World Report
  • Michelle Obama On Love, Family & Politics, interview with Katie Couric
    Katie Couric
    Katherine Anne "Katie" Couric is an American journalist and author. She serves as Special Correspondent for ABC News, contributing to ABC World News, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America, This Week and primetime news specials...

     of CBS News
    CBS News
    CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. The current chairman is Jeff Fager who is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes, while the current president of CBS News is David Rhodes. CBS News' flagship program is the CBS Evening News, hosted by the network's main...

    , February 15, 2008
  • Photoessay in Newsweek
    Newsweek
    Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...