Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (née Robinson; born January 17, 1964) is an American attorney and author who was the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is married to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, and was the first African-American First Lady.
Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, Obama is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. In her early legal career, she worked at the law firm Sidley Austin where she met Barack Obama. She subsequently 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. Michelle married Barack in 1992, and they have two daughters.
Obama campaigned for her husband's presidential bid throughout 2007 and 2008, delivering a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She has subsequently delivered acclaimed speeches at the 2012, 2016, and 2020 conventions.
As first lady, Obama served as a role model for women and worked as an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating. She supported American designers and was considered a fashion icon.
In 2020, her influence remained high and she topped Gallup's poll of the most admired woman in America for the third year running.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois, to Fraser Robinson III (1935–1991), a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain, and Marian Shields Robinson (b. July 30, 1937), a secretary at Spiegel's catalog store. Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Michelle entered high school.
The Robinson and Shields families trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South. On her father's side, she is descended from the Gullah people of South Carolina's Low Country region. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was born into slavery in 1850 on Friendfield Plantation, near Georgetown, South Carolina. He became a freedman at age 15 after the war. Some of Obama's paternal family still reside in the Georgetown area. Her grandfather Fraser Robinson, Jr. built his own house in South Carolina. He and his wife LaVaughn (née Johnson) returned to the Low Country from Chicago after retirement.
Among her maternal ancestors was her great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, born into slavery in South Carolina but sold to Henry Walls Shields, who had a 200-acre farm in Clayton County, Georgia near Atlanta. Melvinia's first son, Dolphus T. Shields, was biracial and born into slavery around 1860. Based on DNA and other evidence, in 2012 researchers said his father was likely 20-year-old Charles Marion Shields, son of Melvinia's master. They may have had a continuing relationship, as she had two more mixed-race children and lived near Shields after emancipation, taking his surname (she later changed her surname).
As was often the case, Melvinia did not talk to relatives about Dolphus's father. Dolphus Shields, with his wife Alice, moved to Birmingham, Alabama after the Civil War. They were great-great-grandparents of Michelle Robinson, whose grandparents had moved to Chicago. Other of their children's lines migrated to Cleveland, Ohio in the 20th century.
Written by- Tushani Das (Content Writer - Intern)