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My Hero: Michelle Obama

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Published: Dec 16, 2021

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Michelle Obama: Empowering Leadership and Inspiring Advocacy

Works cited:.

  • Abe, M. (2015). Japanese anime and manga characters in the United States. In Routledge Handbook of Japanese Media (pp. 145-158). Routledge.
  • Freedman, J. (2014). Anime in America: The emergence of a global pop culture. A&C Black.
  • Gale, D. (2015). Drawing anime and manga characters: step-by-step guide to creating your favorite characters. Chartwell Books.
  • Hart, C. (2012). Manga for the beginner kawaii: how to draw the supercute characters of Japanese comics. Watson-Guptill Publications.
  • Hernandez, J. (2013). Manga: Introduction, genres, global impact. ABC-CLIO.
  • Koletnik, M., & Zupančič, T. (2017). The effects of Japanese anime on the drawing of Slovenian high school students. Educational Studies, 43(3), 341-354.
  • Lamarre, T. (2009). The anime machine: A media theory of animation. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Lunning, F. (Ed.). (2011). Mechademia 6: User enhanced. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Miyake, K. (2017). What makes Japanese anime unique? A comparative analysis between American and Japanese animation. Journal of Media and Communication Studies, 9(5), 57-67.
  • Napier, S. J. (2016). Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: Experiencing contemporary Japanese animation. St. Martin's Press.

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Michelle Obama

When Michelle Obama became First Lady of the United States in 2009, she had traveled a long way from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Still she pledged to remain grounded and focused on her children and their well-being. She also expressed interest in focusing attention on women's efforts to balance work and family. First Lady Obama commented that "My first priority will always be to make sure that our girls are healthy and grounded. Then I want to help other families get the support they need, not just to survive, but to thrive."

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, to Marian and Fraser Robinson in the South Side of Chicago where she and her older brother Craig grew up in a one-bedroom apartment. Craig and Michelle shared a "bedroom," which was the living room split down the center. The family was a close-knit one that stressed the importance of honesty, hard work, and education. Fraser worked as a city pump operator as well as a Democratic precinct captain. Although he suffered from multiple sclerosis, he rarely missed a day of work and taught Michelle and Craig to value achievement as a result of hard work. Marian was a stay-at-home mother until Michelle went to high school to maintain a steady household which included teaching both children to read by the age of four.

Michelle excelled in school, skipping second grade and entering a gifted program in sixth grade. She moved on to Chicago's first magnet school for gifted children called the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, graduating as salutatorian in 1981. Although originally discouraged from applying, she then followed Craig to Princeton University. There she focused her studies on Sociology and African American Studies and graduated cum laude in 1985. Michelle faced further discouragement when she applied to Harvard Law School, but once again she excelled in her studies and graduated in 1988.

After graduating from Harvard, Michelle returned to Chicago and joined the law firm Sidley and Austin. While working there in the summer of 1989, she was assigned to be the adviser to Barack Obama, a new summer intern. Originally Michelle said no when Barack asked her on a date, but finally she gave in; he proposed two years later. They were married on October 3, 1992, and had two daughters, Malia (1998) and Natasha, known as Sasha (2001).

In 1992, shortly after her father's death, Michelle decided that corporate law was not her ideal lifelong occupation. She decided to move into public service, and she started as an assistant to Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley. She then became the assistant commissioner of planning and development for the city of Chicago. In 1993, Michelle began working as the executive director for the non-profit, Public Allies. This AmeriCorps program, initiated during the administration of President Bill Clinton, helped young adults develop the skills and training needed for careers in public service. Michelle joined the University of Chicago in 1996 as the associate dean of student services where she developed the school's first community service program. She became the executive director of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2002. Her role as executive director ended in 2005 when she became vice president of community relations and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

When Barack Obama announced his decision to run for president in 2007, Michelle decided to cut back her work hours to balance her husband's campaign with their family life. Although she campaigned for her husband, traveling across the country giving speeches to thousands of Americans, she limited her time away from home to two days a week. Her mother helped with childcare while the Obamas were campaigning. Once Barack Obama won the election, the family began to prepare for the move to the White House. Both the Obamas talked about the trade-offs of being in the public eye while still trying to maintain some privacy. They emphasized the need to keep life consistent and steady for their daughters. Malia and Sasha attend Sidwell Friends School, a private Quaker day school. When Obama took office, Sasha was a second-grader at the school's Bethesda, Maryland, elementary school campus, and Malia was a fifth-grader at its middle school campus in Washington, DC. Michelle's mother moved to the White House with the Obamas to help ease the transition.

As First Lady, Michelle Obama was the subject of much focus and speculation. The Obamas received more than the usual amount of attention because of being the first African American family to live in the White House. The press covered the choice of a family dog, and contests were held to choose the First Lady's Inaugural gown. As the Obama family settled into their new life in Washington, DC, the Obamas protected the privacy of their daughters, the first young children to live in the White House since President John Kennedy and his family in the early 1960s. As First Lady, Michelle focused on childhood nutrition, exercise (Let's Move campaign), military families, and LGBT rights. She was a popular First Lady who was also influential as a partner to President Obama. 

michelle obama essay

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Michelle Obama

By: History.com Editors

Updated: March 4, 2021 | Original: November 6, 2009

HISTORY: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama (1964-), the wife of 44th U.S. president Barack Obama, served as first lady from 2009-2017. An Ivy League graduate, she built a successful career, first as a lawyer, and then in the private sector, which she maintained throughout her husband’s early political career. Concerned about the effect the campaign would have on their young daughters, Michelle was initially reluctant to support the idea of her husband’s run for the presidency. Despite her initial misgivings, she proved to be an effective surrogate for him on the campaign trail. After her husband’s election, she chose a number of causes to support; advocating for support for military families and encouraging healthy eating to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity. As a young mother, a fashion icon and the first African American first lady, Michelle Obama became a role model to many Americans.

WATCH: Michelle Obama

Michelle obama's childhood.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago , Illinois , to parents Marian and Fraser Robinson. Although Fraser’s modest pay as a city-pump operator led to cramped living in their South Shore bungalow, the Robinsons were a close-knit family, with Michelle and older brother Craig pushed to excel in school. Both children skipped the second grade, and Michelle was later chosen for a gifted-student program that enabled her to take French and advanced biology courses.

Making the lengthy daily trip to attend Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Michelle became student council treasurer and a member of the National Honor Society before graduating as class salutatorian in 1981. She then followed her brother to Princeton University, where she created a reading program for the children of the school’s manual laborers. A sociology major with a minor in African-American studies, she explored the connections between the school’s black alumni and their communities in her senior thesis, graduating cum laude in 1985.

Career and Life Before Becoming First Lady 

After earning her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988, Michelle joined the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin as a junior associate specializing in marketing and intellectual property. Assigned to mentor a summer intern named Barack Obama , she deflected his initial romantic advancements before they began dating. They were engaged within two years, and married at the Trinity United Church of Christ on October 3, 1992.

Michelle left corporate law in 1991 to pursue a career in public service, enabling her to fulfill a personal passion and create networking opportunities that would benefit her husband’s future political career. Initially an assistant to Chicago mayor Richard Daley , she soon became the city’s assistant commissioner of planning and development. In 1993, she was named executive director for the Chicago branch of Public Allies, a leadership-training program for young adults. Moving on to the University of Chicago as associate dean of student services, she developed the school’s first community-service program.

When Obama decided to run for Illinois state senator in 1996, Michelle proved a disciplined campaign aide by canvassing for signatures and throwing fundraising parties. However, their victory presented the family with new challenges; following the births of daughters Malia (1998) and Sasha (2001), Michelle often had to juggle the demands of work and child-rearing alone with her husband tending to business in the state capital of Springfield.

Successful despite the difficulties, Michelle was named executive director of community relations and external affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2002. She was promoted to vice president after three years, and served on the boards of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, but eventually scaled back her work hours and commitments to support Obama’s entry into the U.S. presidential race.

Tenure as First Lady 

The Obama Family

Initially criticized for her candor, Michelle soon proved an asset on the campaign trail with her knack for delivering relatable stories about her family. In addition to becoming the first African American first lady upon Obama’s Election Day victory in 2008, she became the third with a post-graduate degree.

Michelle sought to tie her own agendas to her husband’s larger legislative goals, notably targeting the epidemic of childhood obesity while the Affordable Care Act was being created. In 2009, she worked with local elementary school students to plant a 1,100-square-foot vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House . The following year she launched the Let’s Move! initiative to promote healthy eating and physical activity.

In 2011, Michelle co-founded the Joining Forces program to expand educational and employment options for veterans and to raise awareness about the difficulties plaguing military families. After helping Obama win a second term in office, she formed the Reach Higher initiative to inspire young people to explore higher education and career-development opportunities.

Continuing the family theme of her campaign speeches, the first lady stressed the importance of remaining a diligent parent and brought her mother to live with her in the White House. She was also recognized for an ability to connect to younger generations by remaining attuned to popular culture. Embracing the use of social media, she encouraged fans to follow her progress on her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and proved willing to bring her messages to audiences by appearing in humorous sketches online and on television.

WATCH: The Best Photos of Obama's Presidency

michelle obama essay

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Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is a lawyer, writer, and the wife of former U.S. President Barack Obama. Prior to her role as first lady, she was a lawyer, Chicago city administrator, and community outreach worker.

first lady michelle obama in a black dress and pearl necklace, smiling at the camera

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1964-present

Latest News: Michelle Obama Wins Second Grammy Award

Talk about a talented former first family!

Michelle Obama, 60, was not in attendance in Los Angeles, where the award was announced during the Grammys pre-show on Sunday afternoon. She previously won in the same category for the audio version of her 2018 memoir Becoming .

Barack previously received two Grammys for Best Spoken Word Album for Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream .

Quick Facts

Career in law and public service, marriage to barack obama and daughters, campaigning for her husband, causes and accomplishments as first lady, notable speeches, obama foundation, books and podcasts, partnership with netflix, who is michelle obama.

Michelle Obama is a lawyer, writer, and philanthropist who was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She was the first Black woman to hold this position. Michelle is the wife of America’s 44 th president, Barack Obama . As first lady, Obama focused her attention on social issues such as poverty, healthy living, and education. She won a Grammy Award for her 2018 memoir, Becoming , which discusses the experiences that shaped her, from her childhood in Chicago to her years living in the White House.

FULL NAME: Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama BORN: January 17, 1964 BIRTHPLACE: Chicago, Illinois SPOUSE: Barack Obama (1992-present) CHILDREN: Malia and Sasha ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Capricorn

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago. Her father, Fraser Robinson, was a city-pump operator and a Democratic precinct captain. Her mother, Marian, was a secretary at Spiegel’s catalog store but later stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother, Craig. At 21 months apart in age, Craig and Michelle were often mistaken for twins .

The Robinson family lived in a small bungalow on Chicago’s South Side. Michelle and Craig shared quarters, sleeping in the living room with a sheet serving as a makeshift room divider. They were a close-knit family, typically sharing meals, reading, and playing games together. She later said of her childhood: “I had a very stable, conventional upbringing, and that felt very safe to me.”

Raised with an emphasis on education, both Michelle and her brother learned to read at home by age 4. Both skipped the second grade. By the sixth grade, Michelle was taking classes in her school’s gifted program, where she learned French and completed accelerated courses in biology. Michelle went on to attend Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, the city’s first magnet high school for gifted children, where, among other activities, she served as the student government treasurer. She graduated in 1981 as class salutatorian.

Following in her older brother’s footsteps, Michelle applied for Princeton University. Some teachers tried to dissuade her from applying, telling her she would never get accepted: “Some of my teachers straight up told me that I was setting my sights too high.” Nevertheless, she was accepted, and ultimately graduated cum laude in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Michelle went on to study law at Harvard Law School, where she took part in demonstrations calling for the enrollment and hiring of more minority students and professors. She was awarded her juris doctor in 1988.

After graduating law school in 1988, Michelle worked as an associate in the Chicago branch of the firm Sidley Austin. Her focus was marketing and intellectual property. In 1991, she left corporate law to pursue a career in public service, working as an assistant to Mayor Richard Daley and then as the assistant commissioner of planning and development for the City of Chicago. In 1993, Michelle became executive director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a nonprofit leadership-training program that helps young adults develop skills for future careers in the public sector.

In 1996, Michelle joined the University of Chicago as associate dean of student services, developing the school’s first community-service program. Beginning in 2002, she worked for the University of Chicago Hospitals as executive director of community relations and external affairs. In May 2005, Michelle was appointed vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she continued to work part-time until shortly before her husband’s inauguration as president. She also served as a board member for the prestigious Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

standing on a stage in front of a podium, michelle embraces malia obama from behind while barack obama waves his hand in the air above sasha obama

Michelle met Barack Obama in 1989 at the Chicago firm Sidley Austin. He was a summer intern, and Michelle was assigned to him as an adviser. They were among the few Black people working at the firm at the time. Initially, Michelle refused to date Barack, believing that their work relationship would make the romance improper. She eventually relented, however, and the couple soon fell in love.

Barack described their early relationship as an “opposites attract” situation because he had a different background and a more adventurous personality than Michelle. After two years of dating, Barack proposed, and the two married on October 3, 1992.

The couple has two daughters: Malia , born in 1998, and Sasha , born in 2001. Both Michelle and Barack have stated that their personal priority is their children. The Obamas tried to make their daughters’ world as “normal” as possible while living in the White House, with set times for studying, going to bed and getting up. “My first priority will always be to make sure that our girls are healthy and grounded,” Michelle has said . “Then I want to help other families get the support they need, not just to survive, but to thrive.”

barack and michelle obama wave to supporters on a stage, standing next to joe and jill biden raising their hands in the air

Obama had long known her husband might pursue a political career and said in as early as 1996: “I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism.” She opposed Barack’s decision to run for the U.S. House of Representatives but nevertheless campaigned for him during his unsuccessful primary campaign in 2000. She first caught the eye of a national audience while at her husband’s side when he delivered a high-profile speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Barack was elected as U.S. Senator from Illinois that November.

As her husband’s political role pushed the family into the spotlight, Michelle was publicly recognized for her no-nonsense campaign style as well as her sense of fashion. In May 2006, she was featured in Essence magazine as one of “25 of the World’s Most Inspiring Women.” In September 2007, Michelle was included in 02138 magazine as number 58 in “The Harvard 100,” a yearly list of the school’s most influential alumni. She also twice appeared on the cover of Vogue and made the Vanity Fair best-dressed list two years in a row as well as People magazine’s 2008 best-dressed list.

Michelle had reservations about Barack’s decision to run for president, too; she worried about how it would affect their daughters. Those concerns proved unfounded, as Michelle said they “could care less” about the campaign. In 2007, Michelle scaled back her own professional work to attend to family and campaign obligations during Barack’s run for the Democratic presidential nomination. When they were out on the trail, they would leave their daughters with Michelle’s mother, Marian. Barack won the nomination and later defeated Republican challenger John McCain in the general election to become the 44 th president of the United States . He was inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

barack obama raises his right hand as his left hand rests on a bible that michelle obama holds for his inauguration, both are looking at supreme court justice john roberts

When her husband sought reelection in 2012, facing a challenging race against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney , Michelle diligently campaigned on his behalf. By this time, she had a more established public image and was widely popular. Politico described her as “the most popular member of the Obama administration” and an invaluable asset when it comes to raising money and delivering speeches. She traveled the country, giving talks and making public appearances. On November 6, 2012, Barack was re-elected for a second term.

michelle obama works with students in the white house vegetable garden

As first lady of the United States, Michelle focused her attention on issues such as the support of military families, helping working women balance career and family, and encouraging national service. During the first year of the Obama presidency, Michelle and Barack volunteered at homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the Washington, D.C. area. Michelle also made appearances at public schools, stressing the importance of education and volunteer work.

Ever conscious of her family’s diet and health, Michelle supported the organic-food movement, instructing the White House kitchens to prepare organic food for guests and her family. In March 2009, Michelle worked with 23 fifth graders from a Washington, D.C. school to plant an 1,100-square-foot vegetable garden and install beehives on the South Lawn of the White House. The garden expanded its footprint throughout the Obama administration, and Michelle continued to host events with schoolchildren there. She also put reducing childhood obesity near the top of her agenda.

Michelle remained committed to health and wellness causes throughout her time as first lady. In 2012, she announced a new fitness program for kids as part of her Let’s Move initiative. Along with the U.S. Olympic team and other sports organizations, she worked to get young people to try out a new sport or activity. She also released a book as part of her mission to promote healthy eating called American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America (2012), which included her own experience creating a vegetable garden as well as the work of community gardens elsewhere.

michelle obama, wearing a pink dress, speaking into a camera, with a blue and white backdrop behind her

Throughout her career, Obama has given a number of powerful speeches. In September 2012, she delivered a noteworthy speech at the Democratic National Convention. “Every day, the people I meet inspire me, every day they make me proud, every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth,” she said. “Serving as your first lady is an honor and a privilege.” Obama won both public and critical praise for her narrative, called a “shining moment” by The Washington Post .

In July 2016, Michelle campaigned in support of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. When Clinton was named the Democratic presidential nominee, she became the first woman in the country’s history to win a major political party’s presidential nomination. On the first night of the convention, Michelle spoke in support of Clinton, who had previously run against Barack during the 2008 primaries, and Clinton’s vision of a progressive America.

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, Black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn,” she said. “And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters, and all our sons and daughters, now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.” During the same speech, Michelle alluded to the behavior of Clinton’s Republican challenger Donald Trump , saying her party would not stoop to his level, with the famous phrase : “Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

On January 13, 2017, Michelle made her final speech as first lady at the White House, saying “being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I’ve made you proud.” In an emotional moment, she addressed young Americans:

“I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid. You hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.”

michelle and barack obama wave and smile to the off camera audience and stand in front of a colorful logo and the words obama foundation summit

In 2014, Barack and Michelle established the Obama Foundation that is overseeing the creation of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s South Side. The nonprofit also runs numerous programs aligned with its mission “to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world.” Michelle is particularly involved with the foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, which supports education for girls around the world.

a man holds open a copy of the michelle obama book becoming, in a bookstore, while standing next to a large cardboard image of the book cover

On November 13, 2018, Michelle published her critically acclaimed memoir, Becoming . Describing the “deeply personal experience” of writing the book, she tweeted : “I talk about my roots and how a girl from the South Side found her voice. I hope my journey inspires readers to find the courage to become whoever they aspire to be.” In just 15 days, it became the best-selling book in the United States for the year 2018 and also became a bestseller in several other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, South Korea, and South Africa. In 2020, Michelle won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for the audiobook version of Becoming .

Michelle published a second book in 2022 called The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times . In it, Michelle shared the contents of what she described as her “personal toolbox,” including attitudes, habits, and practices used to overcome feelings of fear, helplessness, and uncertainty. In particular, it addressed the “low-grade form” of depression that gripped the nation during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle premiered a podcast in 2020 called The Michelle Obama Podcast . Podcast critic Nicholas Quah of Vulture said it explored similar themes as the former first lady’s memoir Becoming , calling it entertaining and writing that he was “deeply moved and taken by its comforts, so parched am I for any modicum of moral leadership in the public sphere.” In March 2023, Michelle launched Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast , to accompany her book The Light We Carry .

In February 2024, the audiobook version of The Light We Carry earned Obama her second Grammy Award .

In May 2018, Michelle and Barack announced that they signed a multi-year deal to produce TV series and films for Netflix through their company, Higher Ground Productions. “Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us,” the former First Lady said in a statement .

Their first joint effort resulted in Netflix’s release of American Factory (2019), a documentary about the 2015 launch of a Chinese-owned automotive glass factory in Dayton, Ohio, and the clash of differing cultures and business interests. A hit with critics, American Factory earned an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in February 2020. Michelle was an executive producer and presenter on the Netflix children’s cooking series Waffles + Mochi . Additionally , Netflix and Higher Ground Productions partnered on the documentary Becoming (2020), based upon Michelle’s memoir of the same name.

  • Every day, the people I meet inspire me. Every day, they make me proud. Every day, they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on Earth. Serving as your first lady is an honor and a privilege.
  • When I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.
  • Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.
  • One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.
  • I have the privilege of working on the issues that I choose and the issues that I feel most passionate about.
  • These are the moments that define us—not the day you get the promotion, not the day you win teacher of the year, but the times that force you to claw and scratch and fight just to get through the day; the moments when you get knocked down and you’re wondering whether it’s even worth it to get back up. Those are the times when you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who am I going to be?”
  • That’s what’s always made this country great—embracing the diversity of experience and opinion that surrounds us everywhere we go.
  • The only difference between me and every other woman that I know is that my challenges are publicized, and I’m doing this juggling in front of cameras.
  • We should always have three friends in our lives: one who walks ahead who we look up to and we follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journeys; and then, one who we reach back for and we bring along after we’ve cleared the way.
  • People told me, ‘You can do it all. Just stay the course, get your education, and you can raise a child, stay thin, be in shape, love your man, look good, and raise healthy children.’ That was a lie.
  • Exercise is really important to me—it’s therapeutic. So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride along Lake Michigan with the girls.
  • It would be hard for me to edit myself and still be me.
  • We learned about dignity and decency—that how hard you work matters more than how much you make... that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
  • As women, we must stand up for ourselves. As women, we must stand up for each other. As women, we must stand up for justice for all.
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‘Becoming,’ by Michelle Obama: A pioneering and important work by Allyson Hobbs

michelle obama essay

Reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” feels like catching up with an old friend over a lazy afternoon. Parts of her story are familiar, but still, you lean in, eager to hear them again. Other parts are new and come as a surprise. Sometimes her story makes you laugh out loud and shake your head with a gentle knowingness. Some parts are painful to hear. You wince and wish that you could have protected her from an unkind world.

Obama has sworn to tell her readers everything, and she delivers on that promise. From the silly to the surreal, from the momentous to the mundane, from the tragic to the transformative, she tells it all. As she shares her story, you are struck that every word is honest, brave and real.

“Becoming” explains how Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, “girl of the South Side,” came to be. It is a story that is as much about becoming as it is about belonging.

Obama invites us into the upstairs apartment of the red brick bungalow to experience the camaraderie and closeness that she shared with her parents, Marian and Fraser, and her older brother, Craig. She details her drive, her pursuit of achievement, her desire to check the right boxes and to prove that she was, in fact, “Princeton material,” despite the wrongheaded assessment of her high school college counselor. She would wrestle with the stubborn question — Am I good enough? — that lodged itself in her mind for years to come.

As first lady, Obama shattered the mold. Americans had never seen a life like Obama’s. She did not fit the dominant cultural frame that has been mounted around African American women.

“Becoming” shatters the mold, too. Not only because Obama writes in her signature tell-it-like-it-is style, but because she steeps her story in the richness and complexity of African American history that seldom reaches national audiences.

She is the descendant of enslaved people, a grandchild of the Great Migration, and the product of the storied black community on Chicago’s South Side. She is an observer of segregated housing, restrictive covenants and the exodus of white families to Chicago’s northern and western suburbs. She bears witness to the dashed dreams of her great uncle and grandfather who wished for greater educational and employment opportunities at a time when few if any existed for black men.

Through humor and poignant storytelling, Obama captures the joys of growing up in the neighborhood that writers have called “the capital of black America”: the sound of jazz blasting from her grandfather’s house around the corner, the barbecues where countless cousins gathered, and the feeling that, as Obama writes, “everyone was kin.”

There is a universality in the themes that “Becoming” addresses that many readers will recognize and appreciate, but at its heart, this is a story about the complexity of black women’s lives told firsthand by a black woman. This is a pioneering and important work that helps fill a gap in the literature on African American women’s lives.

“Becoming,” by Michelle Obama.

American Girl

When Michelle Obama told a Milwaukee campaign rally last February, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," critics derided her as another Angry Black Woman. But the only truly radical proposition put forth by Obama, born and raised in Chicago's storied South Side, is the idea of a black community fully vested in the country at large, and proud of the American dream.

michelle obama essay

T he first time I saw Michelle Obama in the flesh, I almost took her for white. It was late July. Pundits were taking whispered bets on the fate of Hillary Clinton’s female supporters. In part to heal the intraparty rift, and in part to raise some cash, Obama was presiding over a Chicago luncheon for Democratic women. They were an opulent, multiracial, mostly middle-aged bunch, in pantsuits and conservative dresses. Clinton-turned-Obama staffer Patti Solis Doyle waved from the floor when she was introduced. One of Clinton’s longtime backers appealed for unity. Only a few weeks earlier, Obama had appeared on The View in a striking black-and-white floral dress. Now, throughout the room, some of the women were decked out in their best version of that number. Obama flashed her trademark sense of humor, her long arms cutting the air, as she made her points.

I’d flown into Midway that morning and driven down Lake Shore Drive, with William DeVaughn crooning “Be Thankful for What You Got” in the background. But even as I took in the stately beauty of Michigan Avenue, notions of Michelle Obama were spinning around in my head. I thought of an ecstatic phone call from my sister Kelley: “You have to ask her how she holds it down!” I thought of my Atlanta aunts, partisans of the Alpha Kappa Alpha pink and green, crowing over Obama’s acceptance of an honorary membership that same month: “Tell her she made the right choice.” I thought of a Chicago homeboy who’d summed her up for me: “Michelle is a six-foot black woman who says what she means.”

And then I thought of an image from last February, when Michelle Obama, in a gray sweater and a non-smile, slipped into a box marked Angry Black Woman . “For the first time in my adult life,” she had told a Milwaukee rally, “I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” When I first saw that clip, I could almost hear the trapdoor opening. In that instant, Michelle Obama became a symbol of her husband’s otherness. And for much of the rest of the campaign season, the opinion media obsessed over her love—or lack of love—of country.

Now, waiting in that cavernous downtown Hilton ballroom, I did not think I’d find Ida Wells or Stokely Carmichael. I did not expect to see Michelle Obama with her fist in the air, slinging bean pies, or hawking The Final Call . But still, I was unprepared for what I did encounter: Michelle Obama recounting her life as if she were an old stevedore hungering for the long-lost neighborhood of yore.

“I am always amazed at how different things are now for working women and families than when I was growing up,” Obama told the crowd. “Things have changed just in that short period of time. See, when I was growing up, my father—as you know, a blue-collar worker—was able to go to work and earn enough money to support a family of four, while my mom stayed home with me and my brother. But today, living with one income, like we did, just doesn’t cut it. People can’t do it—particularly if it’s a shift worker’s salary like my father’s.”

In all my years of watching black public figures, I’d never heard one recall such an idyllic youth. Bill Cosby once said, “African Americans are the only people who do not have any good ol’ days,” and for years the rule was that all our bios must play on a dream deferred, must offer a nod to dilapidated public housing and mothers scrubbing white women’s floors. But Obama waved off Richard Wright. Instead, the blues she sang was the ballad for the modern woman.

“I’m a working woman. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I’m a best friend. But the one role that I cherish the most that you’ve come to know is that role of mom,” she told the audience. “On the campaign trail, in a fund-raiser, sitting in the back of a van somewhere, I am worried about how my girls are doing, about their well-being, about their stability.”

Here was a black woman who minored in African American studies, whose home turf had been marked by the Blackstone Rangers and Gangster Disciples, casting her story not as an essay on the illusory nature of the American dream but as a rumination about our collective fall from motherhood, Chevrolet, and a chicken in every pot. I was waiting on slave narratives and oppression. I was looking for justice and the plight of the poor. Instead, I got homilies on the sainted place of women in American society. I got Michelle saluting and then ribbing her mother, who was seated in the audience. I left that ballroom thinking—as always—of the DuBoisian veil, the dark filter through which African Americans view their countrymen, and mulling the split perceptions of Michelle Obama. For all her spinning-out of a quintessential Horatio Alger tale, remixing black America into another ethnic group on the come-up, many Americans saw her largely through the prism of her belated, and wanting, expression of American pride.

There has been much chatter about Barack Obama as the answer to America’s racial gap, as a biracial black man whose roots stretch from Hawaii to Kenya, with an Ivy League pedigree and the seal of the South Side. But he is not the only one entering the White House who has seen both sides, who intuitively grasps the heroic American narrative of work ethic and family, and how that narrative historically failed black people. He is not the only one who walks in both worlds. Indeed, if you’re looking for a bridge, if you’re looking for someone to connect the heart of black America with the heart of all of America, to allow us all to look at the American dream in the same way, if you’re looking for common ground, then it’s true, we should be talking about Obama. But we should make sure we’re talking about the right one.

T he essential Americanness of Michelle Obama is rooted in her home, the South Side of Chicago. What I originally knew of the South Side I had gleaned from my college years at Howard University. It was the mid-’90s, and all of us sported some measure of black pride—be it Afrocentric or ghettocentric. Often it was a mix of the two. But the South Side kids didn’t boast about rep or whose ’hood was harder. They did not make a scene like the dudes from New York. Instead, they played the South Side rapper Common’s Resurrection until the CD skipped, and walked around campus with their chins in the air, as if they knew something we didn’t. The girls from Chicago were intoxicating—maybe it was the cadences of the South that still clung to their words, or their appreciation for Sam Cooke and Al Green. Ten years ago, I chose my partner from among that lot. Though she spurned her hometown, and the South Side particularly, as a cradle of bougie Negroes, her ties to that magical city still pulled me in.

A few weeks after I saw Obama in Chicago, I came back to town, pushing a white rental through the byways of the South Side. My guide was Timuel Black, 90 years old, who’d fought in World War II, helped bring Martin Luther KingJr. to the city, and, in his later years, turned to compiling an oral history of the Great Migration. A slight, energetic man with a gray mustache, he stepped into the car wearing a blue Obama/Biden hat, and we were off. For three hours, we followed the map of his memories across the South Side, down Cottage Grove, across Hyde Park Boulevard, down through Michelle’s old neighborhood of South Shore. Black was 7 when he saw Charles Lindbergh parading down Grand Boulevard, later rechristened Martin Luther KingJr. Drive. He pointed out Joe Louis’s home, and black Chicago’s old commercial district, the Stroll, where he’d seen all the jazz acts.

The South Side’s sheer mass and its shifting character astonished me. Bungalows would give way to mansions, mansions to burned-out lots, and at every gas station, panhandlers waited in search of change. I asked Black if he, or his brethren, thought of the South Side as a ghetto, and he shook his head, noting that it had always been filled with people like him and his parents, people who worked.

Like its New York counterparts—Harlem in Manhattan, Jamaica in Queens, and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn—the South Side is a black island in a mostly white city. But if the South Side were an island, it would be huge. Unlike Harlem, the South Side isn’t one neighborhood, but a collection of smaller neighborhoods covering 60 percent of the city. All told, the sprawling South Side is arguably the country’s largest black enclave.

We stopped for lunch at Pearl’s Place, a homey southern restaurant on South Michigan Avenue. We ate chicken, and Black broke down the South Side’s place in black American lore with unabashed pride. “We were always entrepreneurial types,” he explained. “We couldn’t yell for taxis. They wouldn’t come into the black community. So we created taxi companies. The concept of the jitney was created in Chicago. You couldn’t afford to die, because white mortuaries wouldn’t bury you. So we did it ourselves. We made places like this—places to eat. A single man could come up from the South and get good home cooking and companionship.”

Black’s memories of Chicago strivers draw from a deep well of myth and fact. The black power struggle in Chicago literally dates back to the city’s founding by the 18th-century trader Jean Baptist Point Du Sable, who, like the president-elect, was a biracial black man. The South Side has been home to the largest black insurance companies in the North, such as Supreme Liberty Life and Chicago Metropolitan Assurance. Ditto for black banks like Seaway National and Independence. Half of the first 14 black CPAs came out of Chicago. The publications that defined black Americans—the Chicago Defender , Ebony , and Jet —were also products of Chicago.

The first black congressmen elected in the 20th century were South Siders Oscar De Priest and his successor Arthur Mitchell. For years, they were the only black congressmen. The only two serious African American presidential campaigns—those of Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama—came out of the South Side. Indeed, Barack Obama, Louis Farrakhan, and Jesse Jackson all lived or worked within a 10-minute drive of each other.

Chicago in the early 20th century was racist and segregated, but whereas in the South black voters were violently suppressed, in the North they were encouraged—the better to feed Chicago’s infamous machine. Moreover, Chicago’s industry was booming, and the Defender painted the city to southerners in typical immigrant fashion—streets paved with gold, and jobs for all who wanted them. For years, the saying among Timuel Black’s peers was a reverse of the old Frank Sinatra riff—“If you can’t make it in Chicago,” they’d say, “you can’t make it anywhere.”

That promise of a better life drew Michelle Obama’s grandparents out of the South and into Chicago. Within Chicago’s Black Belt—a network of neighborhoods kept segregated by Chicago’s restrictive housing covenants—was the sort of oppressive poverty that spawned terms like the underclass . And yet, alongside this privation was a proto-middle-class group of blacks who held the community together. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, came up among them.

“Most of the people were working government jobs, like the post office. My father was a decorator. There was a gentleman in our neighborhood who owned a grocery store,” Robinson recalled. He “had to go to his farm to pick up his groceries. It was rough. There were plenty of reasons why people could not do. People who couldn’t afford rent for a whole apartment, they would share.”

But the hardship forged values in Robinson that she passed on to her kids. “That’s where we got our understanding that it was going to be hard, but you just had to do whatever it takes,” she said. “We all went to church. I was a Brownie. I was a Girl Scout. We all took piano lessons. We had drama classes. They took you to the museum, the Art Institute. They did all those things, but I don’t know how. I grew up with a grandmother and an aunt. My aunt would do things my mother would not or could not.”

In 1948, Chicago’s method of segregating housing—restrictive covenants—was struck down in court, triggering white flight. The South Side suffered, but unlike in other neighborhoods in other cities, the black middle class in Chicago did not follow whites to the suburbs. The result is that while the South Side bears a disproportionate share of the city’s poverty, it also has several steady working- to middle-class neighborhoods.

Michelle Obama’s South Shore, for example, held on to its basic economic makeup. “When we moved over, [the neighborhood] was changing,” Robinson said. “There were good schools, that’s why people moved, and it was the reason we moved. I enjoyed living there. It was fine with me that it was changing. Some people felt the schools were too geared to whites. People were very conscious and wanted black artists in the schools. My point was just to go to school and learn what you have to learn.”

Robinson and her husband also had the advantage of a few overlooked attributes of Chicago. The South Side was almost a black world unto itself, replete with the economic and cultural complexity of the greater city. There were debutantes and cotillions as well as gangs and drug addicts. Mostly, there were men like Fraser Robinson, black people working a job, trying to get by. The diversity and the demographics allowed the Robinsons to protect their kids from the street life, and also from direct, personal racism. And then there was family life. The Robinsons played board games on the weekends. Michelle loved The Brady Bunch .

“We had a very fortunate upbringing,” says Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson. “It was filled with good times. We were like every other family. We had love and discipline. We had caring parents … It wasn’t unusual at all. It wasn’t that everyone had both parents in the house, but it certainly wasn’t like it is now, where you find single-parent families everywhere. Folks went to work, people were excited to get good grades … People would laugh about folks finding out you were getting in trouble. People had mothers at home. So if someone broke a window, you always found out about it. You had a secondary line of defense.”

This cocoon that surrounded Michelle Obama in her formative years helps explain some of the statements and actions that fanned controversy during the campaign. Obama’s Princeton thesis on “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community,” for example, has been interpreted as a budding Garveyite’s call to arms. Exhibit A seems to be her banal citation of Stokely Carmichael to explain black separatism, and her observation that Princeton made her “more aware of [her] ‘Blackness’ than ever before.”

A hostile reading of those words hinges on a misunderstanding of the complexities of segregation. In fact, for the legions of black people who grew up like Michelle Obama—in a functioning, self-contained African American world—racial identity recedes in the consciousness. You know you’re black, but in much the same way that white people know they are white. Since everyone else around you looks like you, you just take it as the norm, the standard, the unremarkable. Objectively, you know you’re in the minority, but that status hits home only when you walk out into the wider world and realize that, out there, you really are different.

I came up in segregated West Baltimore. I understood black as a culture—as Etta James, jumping the broom, the Electric Slide. I understood the history and the politics, the debilitating effects of racism. But I did not understand blackness as a minority until I was an “only,” until I was a young man walking into rooms filled with people who did not look like me. In many ways, segregation protected me—to this day, I’ve never been called a nigger by a white person, and although I know that racism is part of why I define myself as black, I don’t feel that way, any more than I feel that the two oceans define me as American. But in other ways, segregation left me unprepared for the discovery that my world was not the world. In her book Michelle: A Biography , Liza Mundy quotes another South Sider explaining the predicament:

“When you grow up in a black community with a warm black family, you are aware of the fact that you are black, but you don’t feel it … After a certain point you do just kind of think you’re in your own world, and you become very comfortable in that world, and to this day there are African Americans who feel very uncomfortable when they step out of it … This is a society that never lets you forget that you are black.”

In her thesis, Michelle Obama grapples with her dawning sense of race as a divider, and with the idea that the world she knew as a child was very different from the one she was entering as a college student. In that light, her words in Wisconsin deserve another look. It’s easy to be proud of America as a young black kid with a mother and a father, a solid community, and no direct exposure to racism. But Obama’s statement was about her adult life. Post-1960s segregation shielded many of us from feeling different, but it could not save us from the weirdness of having white people touching our hair, from the awkwardness of not knowing whether Led Zeppelin was a man or a group, or, more viscerally, from the pain of witnessing the episodes involving Willie Horton, Sister Souljah, and Rodney King.

Standing behind that podium in Milwaukee, Obama was waxing nostalgic. That doesn’t mean she was wrong. She was merely expressing the hope that the world could be as it was in South Shore, filled with people who get up, raise kids, and go to work, and never have to think about being “the other.”

In most black people, there is a South Side, a sense of home, that never leaves, and yet to compete in the world, we have to go forth. So we learn to code-switch and become bilingual. We save our Timberlands for the weekend, and our jokes for the cats in the mail room. Some of us give ourselves up completely and become the mask, while others overcompensate and turn every dustup into the Montgomery bus boycott.

But increasingly, as we move into the mainstream, black folks are taking a third road—being ourselves. Implicit in the notion of code-switching is a belief in the illegitimacy of blacks as Americans, as well as a disbelief in the ability of our white peers to understand us. But if you see black identity as you see southern identity, or Irish identity, or Italian identity—not as a separate trunk, but as a branch of the American tree, with roots in the broader experience—then you understand that the particulars of black culture are inseparable from the particulars of the country.

Pop culture has laid the groundwork for that recognition. Barack Obama’s coalition—the young, the black, the urban, the hip—was originally assembled by hip-hop. Jay-Z and Nas may be problematic ambassadors, but their ilk are why those who thought Barack and Michelle were giving each other a “terrorist fist jab” were laughed off the stage. We are as physically segregated as ever, yet the changes in media have drawn black idiom into the broader American narrative.

In 2002, the rapper Ice Cube produced and starred in Barbershop . The movie was a surprise hit, spawning a sequel, a spin-off, and a short-lived TV series. Its success shocked industry-watchers, because it took place exclusively in a black community and seemingly focused on “black issues.” But you could find the same characters in any other ethnic community. Think of Michelle Obama’s sharp sense of humor and her insistence on viewing her husband as mortal, and how both traits were derided during the campaign as un-first-ladylike and fed the caricature of her as an Angry Black Woman. In reality, her summation of her husband as “a gifted man, but in the end … just a man” could have come out of the mouth of any sitcom wife on TV.

When I saw Obama in Chicago and took her for white, it was not because of her cadences, mannerisms, or dress, but because of the radical proposition she put forth—a black community fully vested, no DuBoisian veil, in the country at large. A buddy of mine once remarked that Michelle “makes Barack black.” But that understates things. She doesn’t simply make Barack black—she makes him American.

“I keep saying this: Michelle, Barack, and my son are not abnormal,” Marian Robinson said. “All my relatives, all my friends, all their friends, all their parents, almost all of them have the same story. It’s just that their families aren’t running for president. It bothers me that people see [Michelle and Barack] as so phenomenal, because there’s so much of that in the black neighborhood. They went to the same schools we all did. They went through the same struggles.”

T he last time I saw Michelle Obama in person, in a small room at the Westin Tabor Center hotel in Denver, I was convinced that she could be taken for nothing but black. I had spent the past few weeks following her from set piece to set piece—Obama talks to military spouses in Virginia, Obama and her family make care packages for soldiers, Obama addresses the Hispanic caucus at the Democratic National Convention. But nothing I’d seen at those events outweighed the impressions of her character that I was forming from my encounters with the wide streets of the South Side, one of the few places in the country where African Americans could utter the mantra “Black and proud” without a hint of irony.

Her day was almost finished, and she was tired. I was the last in a battery of interviews. Still, she smiled, shook my hand, and said, reaching for a vase of plastic flowers, “We got these for you. What, you don’t believe we bought these for you?” I laughed, sat down, and asked her about her childhood.

“My mom and maybe a couple others were some of the few who were able to stay at home,” she explained. “A lot of my friends, they weren’t called latchkey kids, they were just kids whose parents worked … We went to the public school right around the corner and we had lunch, and you could go home for lunch, and we had recess and there weren’t closed campuses then … They’d bring their bag lunch, they’d sit on the kitchen floor and talk to my mom. There was one other mother who we’d do that with.”

There it was, that old neighborhood nostalgia and pride, woven into the larger American quilt. Obama’s recollections offer no nods to the disproportionate poverty that has always haunted black Chicago. But that was not her world, and it isn’t her story. Since the days of Frederick Douglass—another biracial black man—black leaders have styled themselves as the social conscience of the country. As laudable—if at times opportunistic—as that approach may be, it has also marginalized the very people they were trying to help. The typical black political narrative of using one’s humble beginnings to make the country true to itself flies against the dominant image of America as the “good guy.” It’s also a narrative that holds more truth for the activist, the professional scold, than for the rank and file. If Barack and Michelle Obama are to truly transcend the racial divide, it won’t be through the narrative of justice, but through the mythology of the Great—and common—Cause.

On the night of his victory, Barack Obama talked about Ann Nixon Cooper, a black woman who, at the age of 106, had voted for him. But when Obama told her story, he presented her not just as someone who’d been born a generation after slavery and had seen segregation, but as a woman who’d seen the women’s-suffrage movement, the dawn of aviation and the automobile, the Depression and the Dust Bowl, and Pearl Harbor. He presented Nixon Cooper as an African American who was not doubly conscious, just conscious. That is the third road that black America is walking. It’s not coincidental that two black people from the South Side are leading us on that road. If you’re looking for the heralds of a “post-racial” America, if that adjective is ever to be more than a stupid, unlettered flourish, then look to those, like Michelle Obama, with a sense of security in who they are—those, black or white, who hold blackness as more than the losing end of racism.

These heralds offer a deeper understanding of African American life, a greater appreciation of the bourgeois ordinariness of our experience. “People have never met a Michelle Obama,” the soon-to-be first lady said toward the end of our interview. “But what they’ll come to learn is that there are thousands and thousands of Michelle and Barack Obamas across America. You just don’t live next door to them, or there isn’t a TV show about them.”

There is now.

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Reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” as a Motherhood Memoir

By Emily Lordi

Michelle Barack Sasha and Malia Obama embrace.

“I don’t want to make somebody else,” Toni Morrison’s character Sula declares, when urged to get married and have kids, “I want to make myself.” Morrison herself might have understood this to be a false dichotomy—she was a single mother of two by the time she published “ Sula ,” her second novel, in 1973—but, in her fiction, she split the individualist impulse to make an artful life and the domestic drive to make a home between two characters: Sula and her best friend, Nel. The tensions between these two desires animate the body of fiction and nonfiction about the private lives of women and mothers. It’s a canon that has been dominated by the accounts of white, straight writers, but it now includes Michelle Obama’s blockbuster memoir, “ Becoming .”

What Obama brings to this genre is, first, a powerful sense of self, which precedes and exceeds her domestic relationships—the book’s three sections are titled “Becoming Me,” “Becoming Us,” “Becoming More”—and, second, a conviction that the roles of wife and mother are themselves undefined. She makes and remakes her relationship to both throughout her adult life. In this, she draws on the literature of black women’s self-making that “Sula” represents. The modern matron saint of that tradition is Zora Neale Hurston, who, in a 1928 essay, describes “ How It Feels to Be Colored Me ”: a prismatic, mutable experience of being a loner, a spectacle, an ordinary woman, a goddess (“the eternal feminine with its string of beads”). Lucille Clifton shares Hurston’s sense of the need to invent oneself in a world without reliable mirrors or maps; as she writes in a poem, from 1992, “i had no model. / born in babylon / both nonwhite and woman / what did I see to be except myself? / i made it up…” Like these writers, Obama exposes the particular pressures and thrills of black women’s self-creation. But she also details the rather more modest creation of a stable domestic life. By bringing motherhood, marriage, and self-making together in “Becoming,” she combines the possibilities that Sula and Nel represent.

In some ways, Obama’s desires for a stable home and family are quite conventional, and she uses the conventionally feminine, domestic metaphor of knitting to describe them. “We were learning to adapt, to knit ourselves into a solid and forever form of us,” she writes of the first months of her marriage to Barack. It isn’t easy: in the Robinson-Obama union, the South Side power-walker meets the Hawaii-born ambler; the meticulous planner and striver with an “instinctive love of a crowd” and a desire for family must adapt to the messy, cerebral dreamer who loves solitude and books at least as much as he loves people. Later, the woman who loathes politics must throw her life into her husband’s pursuit of the Presidency.

Things are complicated long before the campaign, as children both complete and unsettle the Obamas’ carefully cultivated “us.” Once Obama gets pregnant, through I.V.F., her resentment at Barack’s distance from the pain of miscarriage and needles gives way to feelings of maternal pride. Upon Malia’s arrival, she writes, “motherhood became my motivator”—yet, three years (and almost twenty pages) later, she is most galvanized by her new full-time job, at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Although she considers staying home when Sasha is born, she instead takes the job, which “[gets her] out of bed in the morning,” though Barack’s comparative absence, as a commuting state and U.S. senator, gets her home in time for dinner. Then, just as Sasha is about to start elementary school and Obama is “on the brink of . . . [firing] up my ambition again and [considering] a new set of goals,” it is decided that Barack should run for President.

Michelle is still driven, but now by a desire not to fail Barack’s growing base of supporters. In an effort to “earn” public approval, she talks a lot about her kids while campaigning—a safe subject for a black woman who was framed in negative contemporary press accounts as an unpatriotic shrew. As the Obamas near the Iowa primaries, Michelle’s growing commitment to Barack’s cause is reflected in her language. Her pronouns shift from “him” to “we”—“Our hopes were pinned on Iowa. We had to win it or otherwise stand down”—and she adopts Barack’s own sermonic listing mode, describing meetings with voters “in Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs . . . in bookstores, union halls, a home for aging military veterans, and, as the weather warmed up, on front porches and in public parks.” Her rhetoric itself knits her and Barack into a “we.”

The book as a whole, however, represents a different moment, and announces her ambition to tell her story in her own way. A long memoir by any measure, “Becoming” not only matches the length of Barack’s first book, “ Dreams from My Father ,” but it also shows Michelle to be a better storyteller than her husband—funnier, and able to generate a surprising degree of suspense about events whose outcomes are a given (the results of Barack’s first run for President, for instance). Having devoted herself to strategically remaking the office of First Lady, through such initiatives as the White House garden and Let Girls Learn, she now reflects on what she has done and who else she might want to become.

Of course, the choices she makes throughout—to focus more and less on work, more and less on family—are a function of privilege. It is a privilege to decide how much or whether to work, and a privilege to have children, whether through I.V.F. or otherwise. The ability to steer one’s own ship also relies on the sheer luck of evading any number of American disasters: layoffs, mass shootings, prison, domestic violence, lack of health care. Then there are the disasters perpetrated by the U.S. surveillance state, which can undo black women, such as Sandra Bland, or their children, such as Kalief Browder. Under these conditions of hypervisibility, no amount of strategic maneuvering can guarantee one’s safety. And, in light of this, the Obamas’ faith in the American system, and in electoral politics, can seem woefully insufficient.

It comes as something of a relief, then, that, even as Michelle seeks to bind her own story to that of her husband and, through him, to that of the nation, the story of her mother, Marian Robinson, hints at an exit. Robinson is a willfully marginal figure in the text, as she was in the White House—famously reluctant to move in, and evasive of its basic security protocols. She gave everything to her kids (“We were their investment,” Michelle writes of her parents’ devotion to their two children) and stood by her husband, Fraser Robinson III, while multiple sclerosis drained him of strength. And yet, it turns out, she harbored fantasies of leaving. It is here that Obama’s portrait of her mother grows most vivid: “Much later, my mother would tell me that every year when spring came and the air warmed up in Chicago, she entertained thoughts about leaving my father. I don’t know if these thoughts were actually serious or not. . . . But for her it was an active fantasy, something that felt healthy and maybe even energizing to ponder, almost as ritual.” Obama sees this ritual as an internal renewal of vows for Marian, akin to how doubts about God might be said to bolster one’s faith. But the fantasy also represents a wholly other possibility: not a knitting-together but an unfurling, a quiet dream of escape.

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By Amy Davidson Sorkin

Michelle Obama’s New Reign of Soft Power

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'Meaning of Michelle' Essays Celebrate First Lady's Realness

Tanya Ballard Brown

Tanya Ballard Brown

michelle obama essay

First lady Michelle Obama welcomes community leaders from across the country to celebrate the successes and share best practices to continue the work of the Mayor's Challenge to End Veterans' Homelessness in the East Room of the White House complex in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP hide caption

First lady Michelle Obama welcomes community leaders from across the country to celebrate the successes and share best practices to continue the work of the Mayor's Challenge to End Veterans' Homelessness in the East Room of the White House complex in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14.

Over the past eight years, Michelle Obama — a former attorney with degrees from Princeton and Harvard universities — has dealt with a lot of cheap (and often mean) shots lobbed in her direction . But while she has her detractors, this first black first lady is widely admired — and not just for her famously defined arms (they even have their own Tumblr ).

So it's not surprising that, in these last days of disco for the Obama administration, a few fans of the first lady would share their love for her in the just-released book, The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own, a collection of essays edited by author Veronica Chambers.

These writers aren't academically dissecting Obama in her role as first lady. No, these are FANS, so much so that some don't need to call her by her last name. It's just Michelle. Among them is a Top Chef , a jazzy jazz musician , and an original member of the Hamilton cast. Many of the essayists felt a connection, an intimacy with the first lady that Obama helped foster not just by being one of the people, but by reminding black Americans, as Chambers writes, that "blackness is not burdensome, and we ... have joy as a birthright."

The Meaning of Michelle

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In the book's preface, film director Ava DuVernay declares, outright, that Michelle Obama's mere presence in the White House was like taking a broom and sweeping out the dirt of past administrations.

In one visit, Michelle supplanted the cartoons of Monica, Katrina and their representative presidencies, ripe with mishandled trust and low morals. In that one photo op, Michelle infused the image of the first lady with pride, panache and polish. Many of us saw a woman to be admired. A woman to be trusted. Scratch that. Many of us saw a Black woman to be admired. A Black woman to be trusted. There it is.

For many black women, writer Benilde Little sums up that feeling of pride meshed with admiration when she explains why she burst into tears upon seeing a post-2008 inauguration photo of the first lady in The New York Times:

"I'm just so happy," Little writes. "She's just like me."

Little describes how Obama's working class-to-Ivy league background helped provide a more fully fleshed out portrayal of black women, something beyond the "perfect pitch, high bourg or stone ghettoians." While the first lady isn't a product of the Jack and Jill set, we know her origin isn't one of black pathology, either.

Nope, her story is the norm for many black Americans: two hard-working parents who pushed and encouraged her to aim high and do well, which she did. Then she got married and had some kids.

Feminist Brittney Cooper put it real plainly in her essay:

As mom-in-chief, Michelle could correct decades-long stereotypes of black women as neglectful parents and money-grubbing welfare queens.

She is, as blogger Damon Young writes in his essay, "a regular black chick." (He means that in a good way, trust me).

While black Americans collectively saw her and saw our sisters and cousins and aunts and moms, we (black men) saw her and saw our classmates and our neighbors; our coworkers and our colleagues. We saw the woman we wanted to approach, to court, to date, to commit to, to marry, and to start a family and grow old with, even if we didn't actually realize we wanted to do any of those things before we saw her.

In fact, Michelle's regular-ness and sista girl realness comes up a lot, as writer after writer describes how she made the White House — and her husband — seem more relatable.

Not all of the essays are perfect, but I don't think readers will come away from this collection disappointed. They are reflections on a woman who feels like a good girlfriend to a large portion of the American public, though they only know her from afar. And the wistfulness in them brings to mind an oldie but goodie from Boyz II Men:

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First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is a lawyer, writer, and the wife of the 44th and current President, Barack Obama. She is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Through her four main initiatives, she has become a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families ,  service members and their families , higher education , and  international adolescent girls education .

Michelle Obama

When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn't hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha's mom.

But before she was a mother — or a wife, lawyer, or public servant — she was Fraser and Marian Robinson's daughter.

The Robinsons lived in a brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago. Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department, and despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age, he hardly ever missed a day of work. Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother Craig, skillfully managing a busy household filled with love, laughter, and important life lessons.

A product of Chicago public schools, Michelle Robinson studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met Barack Obama, the man who would become the love of her life.

After a few years, Mrs. Obama decided her true calling was working with people to serve their communities and their neighbors. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago's City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service.

In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Associate Dean of Student Services, she developed the university's first community service program, and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.

Mrs. Obama has continued her efforts to support and inspire young people during her time as First Lady.

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Michelle Obama: Yes, We Still Need to ‘Go High’ When Everything Is Terrible

Michelle Obama

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O f all the questions I get asked, there’s one that comes up more often and more predictably than any other. Nearly every time I talk to an interviewer or sit down with a new group of people, I can basically count on someone raising it, while others lean in to listen.

What does it really mean to go high ?

It seems possible that I might spend years answering this question. So let me try here.

I first publicly uttered the words “When they go low, we go high” while speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Hillary Clinton was running for president, as was Donald Trump . My job was to rally Democratic voters , reminding everyone to stay involved and do the work it would take to get their candidate elected, including voting on Election Day. As I often do, I talked about how the issues of the day mattered to me as a parent to my two daughters , how the choices Barack and I made were always guided by the principles we wanted our kids to recognize as valuable.

Truthfully, I had no idea that the phrase “we go high” would attach itself to me for years to come, becoming almost synonymous with my name. All I was doing, really, was sharing a convenient bit of shorthand Barack and I used to remind ourselves to hang on to our integrity when we saw others losing theirs. It was a simplification of our ideals: Tell the truth, do your best by others, keep perspective, stay tough.

Read More: Michelle Obama and Amanda Gorman Discuss Art, Identity, and Optimism

Privately, Barack and I have committed and recommitted to the idea of going high many times, especially as we have gone through hard-hitting campaigns and political battles, trying to navigate life in the public eye. We invoke it any time we feel like we are being tested, as a reminder to steady ourselves when confronted by a moral challenge. Going high is like drawing a line in the sand, a boundary we can make visible and then consider. Which side of this do I want to be on? It’s a reminder to pause and be thoughtful.

And yet the problem with any simple motto, I suppose, is that it can be easier to remember and repeat than to put into active daily practice.

These days, when people ask me to explain what it means to go high, I sometimes sense a slightly less polite question riding on its back side, tinged by a natural skepticism, a feeling brewed by weariness and arriving when our efforts seem fruitless and our tests don’t end: But wait, have you seen the world lately? How much worse can things get? Where is the energy to fight?

After George Floyd died with a police officer’s knee on his neck on a Minneapolis street corner in May 2020, people wrote me, asking whether going high was really the correct response. After the Capitol building was marauded, after Republican officials continued to support false and undermining claims about our elections, they wondered something similar. The provocations are endless. We’ve seen more than a million Americans die in a pandemic that highlights every disparity in our culture. We’ve seen Russian troops slaughtering civilians in Ukraine . The Taliban has banned girls going to school in Afghanistan . In the United States, our own leaders have moved to criminalize abortion while communities are routinely devastated by gun violence and hate crimes. Trans rights, gay rights, voting rights, women’s rights—all remain under attack. Any time there’s another injustice, another round of brutality, another incident of failed leadership, corruption, or violation of rights, I get letters and emails that pose some form of this same question.

Are we still supposed to be going high ?

My answer is yes. We need to keep trying to go high. Operating with integrity matters. It will matter forever. It is a tool.

Read More: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s TIME100 Tribute to Michelle Obama

At the same time, though, I want to be clear: Going high is something you do rather than merely feel. It’s not some call to be complacent and wait around for change, or to sit on the sidelines as others struggle. It is not about accepting the conditions of oppression or letting cruelty and power go unchallenged. The notion of going high shouldn’t raise any questions about whether we are obligated to fight for more fairness, decency, and justice in this world; rather, it’s about how we fight, how we go about trying to solve the problems we encounter, and how we sustain ourselves long enough to be effective rather than burn out. There are some who see this as an unfair and ineffective compromise, an extension of respectability politics, in which we conform to rather than challenge the rules in order to get by. Why, people rightly wonder, do we need to try to be so reasonable all the time?

I can see how some think that reason leaves no room for rage . I understand the perception that going high means that you somehow remove yourself and remain unbothered by all that might otherwise gall and provoke you.

But it’s not that at all.

When I first said those words on the convention stage in Philadelphia in 2016 , I was neither removed nor unbothered. In fact, I was pretty agitated. At that point, I had been thoroughly provoked by the bile coming out of the mouths of Republican officials on a regular basis. I was tired after nearly eight years of seeing my husband’s work undermined and his character denigrated, including through bigoted attempts to call his citizenship into question . And I was angry that the chief instigator of that bigotry was now out campaigning to be president.

But where was my actual power? I knew it didn’t reside in my hurt and rage, at least as they existed in raw forms. My power lay in whatever I could manage to do with that hurt and rage, where I could take it. It hinged on whether or not I could elevate those feelings into something that would become harder for others to write off, which was a clear message, a call to action, and a result I was willing to work for.

Read More: What Michelle Obama Said in Her Final Remarks as First Lady

That’s what going high is for me. It’s about taking an abstract and usually upsetting feeling and working to convert it into some sort of actionable plan, to move through the raw stuff and in the direction of a larger solution.

I want to be clear that this is a process, and not always a quick one. It can take time and patience. It’s okay to sit and stew for a while, to live inside the agitation caused by injustice or fear or grief , or to express your pain. It’s okay to grant yourself the space you need to recover or heal. For me, going high usually involves taking a pause before I react. It is a form of self-control, a line laid between our best and worst impulses. Going high is about resisting the temptation to participate in shallow fury and corrosive contempt and instead figuring out how to respond with a clear voice to whatever is shallow and corrosive around you. It’s what happens when you take a reaction and mature it into a response.

Because here’s the thing: Emotions are not plans. They don’t solve problems or right any wrongs. You can feel them—you will feel them, inevitably—but be careful about letting them guide you. Rage can be a dirty windshield. Hurt is like a broken steering wheel. Disappointment will only ride, sulking and unhelpful, in the back seat. If you don’t do something constructive with them, they’ll take you straight into a ditch.

My power has always hinged on my ability to keep myself out of the ditch.

Adapted from the book The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama. Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Obama. Published by Crown, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

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Michelle Obama Is on a Mission to Revolutionize What Our Kids Eat

In this exclusive essay for Oprah Daily, the former First Lady tells us just how she plans to take on the food industry.

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Parenting demands something from every part of us—our bodies, our minds, our souls. And yes, our schedules. In between work and school, between soccer practice and dance lessons, we have to squeeze in snacks and dinner before the bedtime routine begins. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we find a few quiet moments for ourselves. Then, it starts all over again the next day. It’s beautiful, sometimes-controlled chaos. And if we’re being honest, it can be really exhausting.

All those pressures mean that convenience and ease often take priority over everything else, especially when it comes to what our kids are eating and drinking. Grabbing prepared foods becomes simpler than cutting up carrots. Ordering delivery is sometimes all you have energy for.

But all of that can add up. I still remember taking one of my girls for a well-child visit and having the doctor tell me that all those simple choices I was making were negatively impacting her health. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve had as a parent—and one of the biggest wake-up calls of my life. I was a little scared, and also a little exasperated.

Why weren’t there better options for my kids? Why was it so hard to find out if a product was actually healthy? Why did I feel like I was fighting this battle all alone?

Back then, all I wanted were good products, good information, and good partners who actually wanted to do right by my kids. It felt like everywhere I looked, companies viewed kids as profit generators for their bottom lines. I just wanted an ally, and I couldn’t find one anywhere.

So when Barack and I got to the White House, I saw it as a chance to support parents as they’re trying to raise healthy families. We made some incredible progress—improving school nutrition standards, encouraging companies to lower sugar and salt in their products, and so much more.

.css-meat1u:before{margin-bottom:1.2rem;height:2.25rem;content:'“';display:block;font-size:4.375rem;line-height:1.1;font-family:Juana,Juana-weight300-roboto,Juana-weight300-local,Georgia,Times,Serif;font-weight:300;} .css-mn32pc{font-family:Juana,Juana-weight300-upcase-roboto,Juana-weight300-upcase-local,Georgia,Times,Serif;font-size:1.625rem;font-weight:300;letter-spacing:0.0075rem;line-height:1.2;margin:0rem;text-transform:uppercase;}@media(max-width: 64rem){.css-mn32pc{font-size:2.25rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.css-mn32pc{font-size:2.375rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-mn32pc{font-size:2.75rem;line-height:1;}}.css-mn32pc b,.css-mn32pc strong{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;}.css-mn32pc em,.css-mn32pc i{font-style:italic;font-family:inherit;} When Barack and I got to the White House, I saw it as a chance to support parents as they’re trying to raise healthy families.

But today studies show that many kids still aren’t getting enough nutrients. And too many children are at risk in the years ahead for serious health complications like diabetes, heart disease, and more.

Believe me, I know that this is a complicated issue. There’s no perfect solution that will work for every single kid, let alone millions of them.

But my time as First Lady taught me that the food industry plays an outsize role in the fate of children’s health.

And that’s why, after many years of trying to move the needle on this issue from the outside, I’m now working from the inside.

Sugary drinks are a big part of the health crisis kids are facing. That’s why we’re starting with a drink formulated for kids 6 and older. Now, the best options for kids will always be water and milk. But the truth is, on any given day, nearly two in three children drink a sugary beverage, like a soda or sports drink, and we need healthier alternatives kids will be willing to drink.

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We’ve got to meet kids—and their parents—where they are. That’s why PLEZi has a familiar taste that kids love but contains less sugar, less sweetness, and more nutrients than many other drinks out there. It’s all part of an effort to help wean kids off their reliance on sugar and gradually adjust their palates to crave less sweetness overall.

It’s a small change, but we think it can have a big effect. And really, that’s what creating this company is all about for me. It’s why we’re working with a team of public health and parenting experts to keep us on the right track and help us educate parents about healthy eating. And it’s why we’re investing 10 percent of our profits right back into the broader movement to promote children’s health.

I know that none of this will be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is. For me, doing our part to build a world that’s worthy of our children—even if it’s just one kid at a time—is the most meaningful work of all.

Doing our part to build a world that’s worthy of our children is the most meaningful work of all.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing better than putting your kid to bed, watching them doze off, and realizing you’ve tried to do everything you can to keep them happy and healthy. In this exhausting, overwhelming world of parenting, that is what is truly beautiful. And it’s also what can help us get some sleep for ourselves, too.

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michelle obama essay

Michelle Obama

Ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions.

Michelle Obama (born Michelle Robinson) grows up on the South Side of Chicago, in a neighborhood slowly being deserted by white and wealthy families. Michelle’s family (which includes her mother , her father , and her older brother Craig ) is a very tight-knit, middle-class family living together in a small apartment upstairs from her great-aunt Robbie and her great-uncle Terry . Despite the fact that Michelle’s family is not very affluent, she has a happy childhood—largely due to the sacrifices and investment of her family and the adults around her. She learns piano from Robbie, her mother teaches her to read early, and she works hard to get a good education.

Michelle’s childhood is not without its hiccups and challenges, however. When she attends a piano recital, she realizes that she has only ever played on one with broken keys. Her father has multiple sclerosis and his body is slowly deteriorating, despite the fact that he insists he feels fine. And once, when Michelle and her family visit some family friends in a predominantly white neighborhood, they return to their car and find that someone has keyed a deep gash into it.

Still, Michelle doesn’t let these challenges get her down. She works hard in school, and despite a guidance counselor’s doubts, she gets into Princeton (following her brother). At the Third World Center at Princeton (a student center for minority students), she finds friends and mentors that make her feel more at home in a place she describes as “extremely white and very male.” One such friend is Suzanne Alele , who is very different from Michelle in that she prioritizes fun over more pragmatic choices.

Michelle graduates magma cum laude with a degree in sociology, but she doesn’t stop to truly consider what makes her passionate. Instead, she dives right into Harvard Law School, knowing that it will give her a degree of validation and certainty about what her future might look like. After law school, she moves back to Chicago to join a firm called Sidley & Austin. A year into working at Sidley, Michelle agrees to mentor an incoming summer associate. She is assigned Barack Obama , an African American man who is three years older than she is and has already gained a reputation as an exceptional law student (after finishing only his first year at Harvard). She and Barack quickly strike up a friendship, and she notes his intense optimism, his diligence, and also his humility. She is also intrigued by the fact that he seems more concerned with a broader “potential for mobility” than his own wealth. They begin to date just before Barack returns to Harvard.

Over the next two years, as Barack finishes up law school, Michelle starts to feel dissatisfied in her job, knowing she’s not passionate about it. Michelle also experiences two losses: the loss of her friend Suzanne to cancer, and the loss of her father. Her father dies of a heart attack just after finally agreeing to make a doctor’s appointment. Michelle is heartbroken; these losses prompt her to understand that life is precious and she cannot waste any more time in a job that she doesn’t enjoy.

Michelle leaves Sidley & Austin to begin what will become a series of jobs. First, she takes a job at city hall. Though she is skeptical of politics, she is excited by the opportunity to actually improve people’s lives. Meanwhile, Barack graduates from law school and moves back to Chicago. On the day he takes the bar exam, he proposes to Michelle, and she says yes. Michelle and Barack marry in the summer of 1992, then take a honeymoon in Northern California. When they return, Bill Clinton wins the presidency and Carol Mosely Braun (the first African American woman to hold a U.S. Senate seat) wins her race as well. Barack has missed a deadline to turn in a book manuscript, and so he decides to hole up in a cabin in Indonesia for six months to work on it while Michelle remains in Chicago.

Michelle and Barack go through a series of changes: she takes a job at a company called Public Allies, which recruits young people and places them in non-for-profit companies in the hopes that they will stay in that line of work. Barack wins a seat in the Illinois Senate; his mother Ann passes away. Michelle then moves on to a job at the University of Chicago, as an associate dean focusing on community relations. This job’s health benefits are particularly important to Michelle, as she and Barack are trying (unsuccessfully) to get pregnant. After months of failed attempts and a miscarriage, Michelle and Barack decide to try in vitro fertilization, and their daughter Malia is born via this method in 1998. Michelle has a difficult time adjusting to the schedule of being a mom and also having a part-time job. Barack, too, experiences some of the sacrifices of parenting: when they are on vacation in Hawaii, Malia falls ill and Barack is forced to miss a crime bill vote because they cannot fly home while she is sick. He loses a Congressional race as a result of missing the vote.

In 2001, Barack and Michelle have another girl, Sasha . Michelle debates whether to go back to work, but she interviews for a job with the University of Chicago Medical Center (again working on community outreach) and brings Sasha along, making her need for a competitive salary as well as a flexible schedule clear. She is hired. Still, even with the ability to afford childcare, Michelle grows frustrated with Barack’s absence—he is away every Monday through Thursday. The two go to couple’s counseling together and identify ways to make their schedules more compatible.

Michelle is happy at her new job, finding ways to improve how the hospital interacts with the local community and how community members seek treatment and get health care. Barack, meanwhile, decides to run for the U.S. Senate. He gets a few lucky breaks along the way: both the Democratic frontrunner and the Republican nominee are embroiled in scandals, and Barack is also selected by presidential nominee John Kerry as the keynote speaker for the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He gives a rousing seventeen-minute speech demonstrating how he is the embodiment of the American dream, calling for hope, progress, and unity among the American people. He becomes an instant sensation and wins his Senate race with 70 percent of the vote.

After two years in the Senate, Barack thinks about running for President. Michelle, who can already see her own identity slipping away in support of Barack’s, is hesitant, but she agrees, knowing that he could help millions of people. Along the campaign trail, Michelle and Barack face extra scrutiny because of their race. People often make racist comments about Barack and Michelle, and Michelle also faces a great deal of sexism when people speak about her “emasculating” Barack by being such a strong woman.

As Barack and Michelle campaign heavily in Iowa, Malia’s pediatrician tells Michelle that Malia’s body mass index is creeping up. Michelle hires a young man named Sam Kass to cook healthy meals for the family, and Michelle starts to become passionate about children’s health and nutrition. She and Sam discuss the possibility of planting a garden at the White House and starting a children’s health initiative if Barack wins.

After months of hard campaigning, Barack wins the Democratic nomination (beating Hillary Clinton ), and ultimately wins the presidency against Republican John McCain . This sets off a whirlwind of changes in the Obamas’ lives. They move to Washington and into the White House; they all receive dedicated Secret Service agents and a heavy security detail; they experience the luxury of a full-time staff catering to their needs.

Barack and Michelle waste no time: Barack is focused on rescuing a failing economy, while Michelle begins a series of initiatives in the White House. The first is planting a garden alongside Sam Kass, which helps spark her children’s health initiative, called Let’s Move! She gets large chain companies to promise to cut the salt, fat, and sugar in the meals they market to children, works with schools to provide healthier lunches, and gets networks like Disney and NBC to run PSAs during kids’ programs about the importance of physical activity.

Michelle knows that all of her decisions will face some kind of backlash: from women who believe she is giving up her education and career to become a domestic housewife; to those who believe she is too involved in policy; to those who simply focus on her fashion. Michelle knows, too, that as the first black First Lady, she is not perceived to have the “presumed grace” of other First Ladies.

Over the course of Barack’s two terms as President, both Michelle and Barack accomplish a lot. Barack is able to pass the Affordable Care Act, his signature domestic achievement. He starts to pull America out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and American forces are able to kill Osama bin Laden. Barack rescues the economy. Michelle accomplishes a lot of her goals with Let’s Move! and also works on other initiatives like Joining Forces (which focuses on supporting military families), Reach Higher (which helps kids get to and stay in college) and Let Girls Learn (which supports girls’ education worldwide).

Still, there are many instances in which Barack and Michelle aren’t able to achieve all of their goals, and they feel the weight and responsibility of caring for a grieving nation. When a gunman kills twenty first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, Barack knows there is no solace to be had, but resolves to fight for common sense gun control laws. Yet despite more and more instances of gun violence and school shootings, Congress does not budge.

As Barack’s presidency draws to a close, the next election kicks up. Michelle helps campaign for Hillary Clinton, particularly because she is disgusted by the racist and misogynistic comments that Donald Trump , the Republican nominee, makes. When Donald Trump eventually wins, Michelle is disheartened, worrying that so much of the progress that has been made in the last eight years might be undone. Still, as her family transitions out of the White House, she retains her optimism. No one person, she says, can reverse all progress.

Michelle concludes by affirming that she is “an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey.” She reflects on all of the ways that she and the country have changed over her lifetime. Neither she nor the country is perfect, but continuing to grow, and owning one’s own unique story, is what “becoming” ultimately means to her.

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Michelle Obama Shares Her Lessons on Motherhood in a Moving Personal Essay

By Stacey Leasca

Former US first lady Michelle Obama gestures on stage of the Royal Arena in Copenhagen on April 9 2019

Former first lady Michelle Obama has always had sage advice to share in speeches; in her best-selling book, Becoming ; and now in a new personal essay in People . In honor of Mother's Day, Obama penned a deeply personal essay in which she describes the important lessons her own mother, Marian Robinson, passed onto her.

"My mother is a woman who chooses her words carefully. She’ll sometimes speak in clipped sentences, her wisdom packed into short bursts and punctuated with an infectious smile or a wry laugh. It’s a style that makes her a favorite of everyone she meets—a sweet, witty companion who doesn’t need the limelight," Obama wrote.

Obama added that as she grew older, she realized just how important that manner of conversation really was and how it truly reflected her mother's parenting style. "Because when it came to raising her kids, my mom knew that her voice was less important than allowing me to use my own," she wrote.

Malia Obama Sasha Obama and First lady Michelle Obama listen as Democratic presidential candidate U.S. President Barack...

According to Obama, that meant her mother "listened a lot more than she lectured" when answering all the questions a younger Michelle threw her way.

"Why did we have to eat eggs for breakfast? Why do people need jobs? Why are the houses bigger in other neighborhoods? She didn’t chide me if I scrapped with some of the neighbor kids or challenged my ornery grandfather when I thought he was being a little too ornery," Obama wrote. "She listened intently to the lunchtime conversations I had with my schoolmates over bologna sandwiches and nodded patiently along to tales of my contentious piano lessons with my great aunt Robbie."

Obama continued that in today’s world, it may be easy to see her mother's actions as "negligent" because she allowed her children to "rule the roost." But, she noted, the reality was far from that.

"She and my father, Fraser, were wholly invested in their children, pouring a deep and durable foundation of goodness and honesty, of right and wrong, into my brother and me. After that, they simply let us be ourselves," she wrote.

Obama added that now, as a mother of two nearly grown women, she sees just how important that freedom is.

"I see now how important that kind of freedom is for all children, particularly for girls with flames of their own—flames the world might try to dim," she wrote. "It’s up to us, as mothers and mother figures, to give the girls in our lives the kind of support that keeps their flame lit and lifts up their voices—not necessarily with our own words, but by letting them find the words themselves."

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Michele Obama’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis Essay

The study of what rhetorical tools public personalities use in their speech can be a beneficial aspect to study. With its help, people can get an understanding of how, when, and where people can use rhetorical components. This work aims to study Michelle Obama’s opening remarks at the White House Convention on Food Marketing to Children. The main message of the First Lady was to draw attention to the suppression of the advertising of unhealthy food to minors. In addition, the main appeals that Obama uses are logic and emotional.

The first aspect of rhetoric used in this speech is logic. It implies the justification and reasons for a particular action or event. Michele Obama stated that “between 2008 and 2011, obesity rates among low-income preschoolers dropped in 19 states and territories across the country” (Read Michelle Obama’s Speech on Food Marketing para. 10). Therefore, Obama provides a justification of how important it is for television changes to encourage a proper lifestyle among the younger generation.

The next valuable component of rhetoric in the studied speech of the first lady is the emotional aspect. Thus, Obama emphasizes that “while we have made important progress, when one in three kids is still on track to develop diabetes, and when the diet has now surpassed smoking” (Read Michelle Obama’s Speech on Food Marketing para. 11). In this case, Michele Obama points to the positive results already achieved while also highlighting that children are still at risk.

In conclusion, this work was engaged in analyzing Michelle Obama’s speech on the topic of the harm of the media for introducing the younger generation to healthy habits. To better convey the main idea, the first lady used such components of rhetoric as logic and emotion. They helped to better form and give important information, gave the speech solidity, and improved the audience’s ability to persuade.

Works Cited

“Read Michelle Obama’s Speech on Food Marketing.” Grub Streets , 2013, Web.

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IvyPanda. (2023, January 10). Michele Obama’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis. https://ivypanda.com/essays/michele-obamas-speech-a-rhetorical-analysis/

"Michele Obama’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis." IvyPanda , 10 Jan. 2023, ivypanda.com/essays/michele-obamas-speech-a-rhetorical-analysis/.

IvyPanda . (2023) 'Michele Obama’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis'. 10 January.

IvyPanda . 2023. "Michele Obama’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis." January 10, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/michele-obamas-speech-a-rhetorical-analysis/.

1. IvyPanda . "Michele Obama’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis." January 10, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/michele-obamas-speech-a-rhetorical-analysis/.

Bibliography

IvyPanda . "Michele Obama’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis." January 10, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/michele-obamas-speech-a-rhetorical-analysis/.

Examples

Welcome Speech for Graduation Ceremony

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Introduction:

“Good [morning/afternoon/evening], everyone. Honored guests, esteemed faculty, proud parents, and, most importantly, our distinguished graduates. I am [Your Name], [your position, e.g., the Principal, Dean, Class President], and it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the [Year] Graduation Ceremony of [School/Institution’s Name].”

Acknowledgment of Guests: “First, let us acknowledge and thank our esteemed guests, faculty, and staff who have guided and supported our graduates throughout their educational journey. Your dedication and commitment have been instrumental in shaping the minds and futures of these remarkable individuals.”

Recognition of Parents and Families: “To the parents, families, and friends of our graduates, today is as much a celebration of your efforts as it is of the graduates’. Your unwavering support, sacrifices, and encouragement have played a crucial role in their success. Thank you for being their pillars of strength.”

Congratulating Graduates: “To our graduates, today marks a significant milestone in your lives. You have worked tirelessly, overcome challenges, and persevered to reach this moment. Your hard work, determination, and resilience have brought you here, and you should be incredibly proud of your achievements.”

Reflecting on the Journey: “Throughout your time at [School/Institution’s Name], you have not only gained knowledge but also formed lifelong friendships, developed critical thinking skills, and discovered your passions. These experiences have prepared you to face the future with confidence and courage.”

Encouraging Future Endeavors: “As you step into the next chapter of your lives, remember that education does not end here. Continue to seek knowledge, embrace new challenges, and strive for excellence in everything you do. The world is full of opportunities waiting for you to explore and conquer.”

Expressing Confidence: “We have full confidence that you will carry the values and lessons learned here into the world, making meaningful contributions to society. Whether you are pursuing further education, entering the workforce, or embarking on other adventures, know that you have the tools and the spirit to succeed.”

Conclusion:

Final Words of Inspiration: “Graduates, as you leave this institution, remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Be bold, be brave, and never stop believing in yourselves. The future is yours to shape.”

Welcome Once Again: “Once again, welcome to the [Year] Graduation Ceremony of [School/Institution’s Name]. Let us celebrate the achievements of our graduates and the bright futures that lie ahead.”

Closing: “Thank you all for being here today. Let’s make this a memorable and joyous celebration. Congratulations to the Class of [Year]!”

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Obama Is a Surprise Guest Among Allies at Biden’s State Dinner for Kenya

The state dinner was held in honor of the African nation, but it was clear that the night was about keeping Democratic allies close as President Biden heads into the heat of the 2024 campaign season.

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Former President Barack Obama, wearing a tuxedo, in a room with a red curtain in the background.

By Katie Rogers and Zach Montague

Reporting from Washington

Yes, Barack Obama was there.

State dinners are best known as bear hugs for overseas allies, and Thursday’s honoree was Kenya . But the sixth state dinner of President Biden’s term was designed to clutch domestic allies — not the least of them Mr. Obama, whose father was Kenyan — even tighter as the president makes the long slog toward November.

The 500-person event, held on the South Lawn of the White House on a humid May evening, was attended by dozens of influential Kenyans, of course. The list included President William Ruto of Kenya and his wife, Rachel, along with three of his daughters. It also included some of the country’s wealthiest figures, like James Mwangi, the chief executive of the global banking conglomerate Equity Group Holdings Limited.

“We share a strong respect for the history that connects us together,” Mr. Biden said to his guests during a toast. He quoted from a speech given by President Jimmy Carter, who honored Kenya with a state dinner in 1980: “Neighbors do not share a border but share beliefs.”

But the evening, along with the guest list, was just as notable for what it said about Mr. Biden’s current political obstacles. Aside from Mr. Obama — the former president was not on the initial guest list published by the White House, and he departed before Mr. Biden’s speech — the list name-checked the people Mr. Biden will want to bring closer into the fold in the months ahead. The lineup included elected officials in several battleground states, influential Black political operatives, and powerful philanthropists, like Melinda French Gates .

Choosing their guests, the president and Jill Biden, the first lady, mixed supporters of the president’s re-election effort with several Biden family members — granddaughters and Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, who is scheduled to stand trial on gun charges next month. (Hunter Biden’s wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, walked the red carpet alone.) There were few Hollywood types, though one notable attendee was the actor Sean Penn. Mr. Penn was photographed by the gossip website TMZ as he spent time with Hunter Biden, who has been working on a documentary about his life , in California earlier this month.

And then there was a lengthy list of members of the administration, including Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, whose Department of Justice charged the younger Mr. Biden with tax fraud in December. The Bidens designed a similarly fraught guest list almost a year ago, when Hunter Biden attended the state dinner in honor of India.

In other ways, the evening seemed designed to give several overworked Biden officials the night off — if you can call it that. Jeff Zients, the White House chief of staff, and Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director, were invited, as was Carlos Elizondo, the White House social secretary, who has helped plan the last six state dinners.

Some attendees, like the veteran political strategist Donna Brazile, tried to dodge the talk of the 2024 election, but reality had a way of creeping into the gauzy event.

LeVar Burton, a former “Star Trek” officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise and a onetime host of the PBS literacy-building program “Reading Rainbow,” was asked by reporters to use a single word to describe the political climate.

“Just one? Can I swear?” asked Mr. Burton, a national treasure. “I will say it is fraught, indeed. With possibility. That’s three words.”

All three of those words could apply to Mr. Biden’s campaign. According to recent polls, he is trailing his competitor, former President Donald J. Trump, in several battleground states, and several representatives from those states were in attendance: The mayors of Charlotte, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Augusta and Atlanta all traveled to Washington to dine on chilled heirloom tomato soup and fruitwood-smoked beef short ribs within a few tables of the president.

Former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State, arrived for their second state dinner this spring — the last one, for Japan , was held just over a month ago. Mr. Biden is relying on Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama for their support, advice and fund-raising abilities: An event the three hosted in New York in March raised $25 million .

Senator Raphael Warnock, Democrat of Georgia, made the cut, as did Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a longtime friend and confidant of the president’s.

(Mr. Coons was recently dining on cooked muskrat in Delaware, at a function intended to shore up relations back home. On his plate on Thursday, though, was butter-poached lobster and baby kale with sweet corn purée, with a white chocolate basket for dessert.)

The lone Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, is an ally of Speaker Mike Johnson , and was thought to be instrumental in urging Mr. Johnson to support the last round of military funding for Ukraine.

Even Brad Paisley, the night’s musical entertainment, enjoys a friend-of status. He and his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, have headlined several events with the first lady since Mr. Biden was elected. Mr. Paisley, who was the musical guest at a White House dinner for governors in February 2023, also performed with the Howard Gospel Choir.

“I can’t wait to see what kind of audience this is,” Mr. Paisley said brightly to reporters, telling them that he was planning to start the festivities with his song “American Saturday Night” — such a hopeful tune for a group that doesn’t really observe weekends .

At several points, attendees briefly offered their thoughts about investment in African economies and programs. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, said that he supported the development of sports programs in Africa, and said that the White House should rebuild its basketball court. (Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, sped by reporters.)

The author Barbara Kingsolver, who has drawn inspiration from the continent in several of her novels, was circumspect when asked what it was about Africa that had so influenced her work.

“Everything,” the Pulitzer Prize winner said before slipping inside.

Katie Rogers is a White House correspondent. For much of the past decade, she has focused on features about the presidency, the first family, and life in Washington, in addition to covering a range of domestic and foreign policy issues. She is the author of a book on first ladies. More about Katie Rogers

Zach Montague is based in Washington. He covers breaking news and developments around the district. More about Zach Montague

Our Coverage of the 2024 Election

Presidential Race: News and Analysis

President Biden paid tribute to veterans who died in America’s wars at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day  as Donald Trump posted an angry and incendiary message on his social media site.

The Libertarian Party chose one of its own as its presidential nominee , capping a boisterous four-day event, where both Trump  and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. unsuccessfully sought  to court the group’s backing.

The verdict in Trump’s criminal trial remains a mystery, at least for a few more days. Less of a mystery is what he will say and do , with his history of attacking investigators, blaming Biden and seeking vengeance on those who cross him.

Sowing Election Doubt:  Trump has baselessly and publicly cast doubt about the fairness of the 2024 election  about once a day, on average, since he announced his candidacy.

Bringing Trump Into Focus:  For all the news that Trump makes, the Biden campaign is struggling to make the 2024 race about the former president .

Trump’s Bygone Era:  The greed-is-good era of the 1980s was the last time Trump's preferred public image was intact, and he’s been returning there in ways large and small .

Lawlessness as an Election Issue:  In most U.S. cities, rates of homicide and violent assault are down significantly from pandemic-era highs. But property crimes have risen, fueling voter anxiety .

michelle obama essay

Michelle Obama Turned Down One Of TV's Most Iconic Shows By Writing Two Words On A Note

A ppearing as a guest star can be challenging. An outsider coming into an environment that features an established cast can provide extra pressure. That's especially true for someone without much acting experience. That's the case for the person we'll be looking at, Michelle Obama.

Despite her lack of acting, Michelle made quite the impression during her interview alongside Stephen Colbert . Obama had fans talking given her impression of Barack. We'll take a look back at the memorable moment, and what the fans thought about her improv work.

In addition, we'll reveal another offer that was put in place by an iconic TV show. Ultimately, Michelle did not appear on the show, and was voiced by Angela Bassett instead. It is said that show was very persistent in their efforts, and Michelle had a sense of humor about it all, responding to the creator with a brief note. Although she didn't appear, at least she responded back in the best way possible.

In addition, we're also going to reveal other major stars that turned down the show similar to Obama. Tom Cruise is among the biggest names that rejected the show's advances multiple times in the past.

RELATED - Did Michelle Obama Refuse To Date Barack?

Michelle Obama Was Praised For Her Acting Chops After Her Imitation Of Husband Barack On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

If she wanted to, Michelle Obama can definitely have a legitimate future in acting, perhaps comedy given what the fans saw during her appearance alongside Stephen Colbert on the Late Show . Fans were buzzing over Michelle's top-notch impression of Barack. The moment has 22 million views on YouTube , with fans praising Michelle for her underrated improv work.

One fan writes, "I adore her. She seems like such a genuinely kind and loving person. Brains, beauty, grace, style, a sense of humor... she’s got it all! Barack is a lucky, lucky man."

RELATED - Barack Obama Revealed To Jimmy Kimmel That He Wasn't Allowed To Drive As President, And Faced Consequences From The Secret Service When He Actually Did

No real indication that Michelle will ever jump into acting and the same holds true for Barack. However, the former President does have a suggestion as to who can play him in a biopic.

"I will say this, Drake seems to be able to do anything he wants," Obama said. "I mean, that is a talented, talented brother. So, if the time comes and he's ready."

"Drake has, more importantly I think, my household's stamp of approval," he joked, referring specifically to his daughters. "I suspect Malia and Sasha would be just fine with it," Obama tells Yahoo Life.

As for Michelle, no word on her preferences, but Angela Bassett did step in for a certain role she turned down in a unique way.

Michelle Obama Turned Down The Simpsons Cameo Request By Writing 'Nice Try' On A Note

Credit to The Simpsons who were able to land Angela Bassett as Mrs. Obama during episode 15 in season 21. However, with all due respect to Bassett, the show had there eyes on someone else, and that was the original, Michelle Obama.

The Simpsons failed attempt did not come without effort. It is said that the show's creators were very persistent about having her on. However, it was not meant to be and according to James L. Brooks, the show's co-creator, Michelle Obama had a very unique way of turning down the offer.

“We tried to get her on The Simpsons and we couldn’t,” he said. “We finally got a note that said ‘good try,’ because we were so aggressive.”

RELATED - Why The Simpsons Barbie Parody Absolutely Broke Yeardley Smith's Heart: The Truth About "Lisa Vs Malibu Stacy"

Although the cameo wasn't meant to be, it is great to see that Obama acknowledged the show and had a sense of humor about it all. In truth, Obama was far from the only person that turned down a role on the beloved series.

Michelle Obama Was Far From The Only Celeb To Reject The Simpsons Cameo Request

Don't feel too bad for The Simpsons as the show is used to getting turned down by major celebs. The list is truly a large one, and it also featured mega stars that turned down the show several times .

Among the biggest names includes Tom Cruise, who rejected the series twice. Among other major names includes Jim Carrey, who was ultimately replaced by Hank Azaria.

Presidents turning down the show was also very common, as the likes of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford all turned down the series. Mega action stars also rejected the show's request to play themselves. Among the possible gets included Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone.

Looking back, the show did just fine without the cameos, and had fine guest stars along the way. Though fans can't help what the show might've looked like with Tom Cruise possibly playing the role of Bart's brother. Without a doubt, it would've made for memorable television but hey, it just wasn't meant to be.

Michelle Obama Turned Down One Of TV's Most Iconic Shows By Writing Two Words On A Note

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Deesha Dyer was a 31-year-old community college student when she landed a dream internship in the Obama White House. In her book “Undiplomatic: How My Attitude Created the Best Kind of Good Trouble”, she explains how she moved from ‘no I can’t’ to ‘yes I can’ to become White House social secretary.

Reaction to the death of Bill Walton, the Hall of Famer who died Monday

Bill Walton stretches before the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Oregon and Colorado, Jan. 2, 2020.

The basketball world is mourning the death of Hall of Famer and San Diego icon Bill Walton

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Reaction from the basketball world to the death Monday of Bill Walton :

“My very close friend, fellow Bruin and NBA rival Bill Walton died today. And the world feels so much heavier now. On the court, Bill was a fierce player, but off the court he wasn’t happy unless he did everything he could to make everyone around him happy. He was the best of us.” — fellow UCLA center, NBA star and Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“Bill Walton was one of the greatest basketball players of all time — a champion at every level and the embodiment of unselfish team play. He was also a wonderful spirit full of curiosity, humor and kindness. We are poorer for his passing, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family.” — former President Barack Obama.

“Bill was a special, kind, and genuine person. I’m incredibly grateful for our close friendship, and the time we spent together on the air, out to dinner after the game, or in his teepee in his backyard. An iconic athlete and broadcaster, but more important, a legendary person who always made me smile.” — ESPN broadcaster Dave Pasch, a longtime on-air partner of Walton.

“He was a guy who did everything and there’s been a lot of talk today about how he speaks in hyperbole and stuff, but he just defiantly competed for every moment in life to be the greatest it could possibly be. That’s the best way to describe it. What an amazing man. There will never be another.” — Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, who was Walton’s teammate in Boston.

“Bill Walton was a brilliant, interesting, thoughtful, humorous and genuine soul who loved life and cared about everyone he encountered. He will be dearly missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to share his friendship.” — Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball.

“Bill’s list of accomplishments on the court, as massive as they are, are only outweighed by the quality of his character and beauty of his one-of-a-kind loving spirit. In the words of our friend and hero — Thank you, Bill, for our life.” — statement from the Pac-12 Conference.

“From shooting jump shots to making incredible passes, he was one of the smartest basketball players to ever live. Bill was a great ambassador for college basketball and the NBA, and he will be sorely missed.” — Magic Johnson.

“What a privilege to know him.” — longtime Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Walton, a basketball legend and an incredible human being. ... You will be deeply missed.” — Pau Gasol.

“We have lost one of the greatest players and personalities that this franchise, this sport and this region have ever known. Bill Walton is synonymous with Southern California basketball: a San Diego native, a UCLA phenom, a Clipper icon. He defined the game as a player, a broadcaster and an ambassador, spreading joy for generations. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Big Red stood above the crowd.” — statement from the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Bill Walton was a legendary player, a hilarious, colorful broadcaster and most of all a wonderful person. I fell in love with basketball watching Bill dominate at UCLA in front of packed crowds at Pauley Pavilion, and I was blessed to get to know him later in our lives when he covered the NBA as an analyst on TV. .... His incredible energy, passion, love and zest for life was never turned off. Our hearts are broken today as we mourn Bill’s passing and grieve with his family.” — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

“He left me some of the most iconic voice messages a man can receive. I saved them all. He knew the names of my wife, my kids, and always asked me how my dad was doing. And, he loved the Pac 12! Bill will be missed by many people. I am certainly one of them. He made me smile every time I saw him.” — former Arizona coach Sean Miller, now at Xavier.

“It’s a legend lost.” — Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd.

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Houston, TX - April 3: Bill Walton watches before the start of Monday's national championship game against Connecticut in Houston. (K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

‘He was Mr. San Diego’: Basketball icon Bill Walton remembered for his generosity, philanthropy, civic pride

Bill Walton, who died Monday at age 71, ‘did everything for everybody, and loved this city ... like none other’

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 20: Bill Walton attends a basketball game.

Jon Wilner: Bill Walton was a lifelong champion of the conference he loved

His alma mater’s departure from the Pac-12 hurt Bill Walton, who for years was the league’s biggest booster on air

|06.25.2015 --San Diego, CA_Professional basketball legend Bill Walton, who has seen more concerts by The Grateful Dead than almost anyone, will play a major role at the Dead's upcoming 50th anniversary farewell tour heading to the Bay are and Chicago this summer. Here he poses by a Grateful Dead-inspired table in his Hillcrest backyard. MANDATORY CREDIT: San Diego Union-Tribune photo by John Gastaldo, 2015. |

Appreciation: Bill Walton was a passionate music fan who saw the Grateful Dead more than 850 times

Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and the Rolling Stones were other favorites of the San Diego-bred sports legend. ‘Basketball and music are so very similar,’ Walton said.

Bill Walton -1984

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Nick Canepa: Bill Walton was, simply, San Diego’s greatest ambassador

Bill Walton was an evangelist for basketball and San Diego, even in times when he was critical of both

Former NBA star Bill Walton speaks with members of the media before his bike ride along Harbor Drive during the Bike for Humanity on Saturday, April 25, 2020. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker)

Bryce Miller: ‘A bellwether for humanity,’ Bill Walton was San Diego’s champion and cheerleader

The Helix High, UCLA and NBA basketball star grew into an unmatched philanthropist who became the ‘soul’ of San Diego

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COMMENTS

  1. My Hero: Michelle Obama: [Essay Example], 556 words

    Michelle Obama is a highly educated, intelligent and passionate working mother of two. She is a leader of our nation, and well-renowned over the globe. Her work and passion have acted as the solidification of women's role in politics. Women have had a growing voice in politics for years, and Michelle Obama has encouraged women to speak in ...

  2. Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama (born January 17, 1964, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.) is an American first lady (2009-17), the wife of Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States.She was the first African American first lady. Michelle Robinson, who grew up on Chicago's South Side, was the daughter of Marian, a homemaker, and Frasier Robinson, a worker in the city's water-purification plant.

  3. Michelle Obama

    When Obama took office, Sasha was a second-grader at the school's Bethesda, Maryland, elementary school campus, and Malia was a fifth-grader at its middle school campus in Washington, DC. Michelle's mother moved to the White House with the Obamas to help ease the transition. As First Lady, Michelle Obama was the subject of much focus and ...

  4. Michelle Obama

    Jim Bennett/Getty Images. Michelle Obama (1964-), the wife of 44th U.S. president Barack Obama, served as first lady from 2009-2017. An Ivy League graduate, she built a successful career, first as ...

  5. Michelle Obama: Biography, First Lady, Philanthropist

    Michelle Obama is a lawyer, writer, and philanthropist who was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She was the first Black woman to hold this position. Michelle is the wife of ...

  6. What Michelle Obama's Book Says About Her College Years

    But her essay worked, and in the fall of 1981, she left Chicago for Princeton, New Jersey. ... Michelle Obama's tales of applying to and enrolling in Princeton are emblematic of an all-too ...

  7. 'Becoming,' by Michelle Obama: A pioneering and important work by

    Reading Michelle Obama's memoir, "Becoming," feels like catching up with an old friend over a lazy afternoon. Parts of her story are familiar, but still, you lean in, eager to hear them again. Other parts are new and come as a surprise. Sometimes her story makes you laugh out loud and shake your head with a gentle knowingness. Some parts are painful to hear.

  8. Michelle Obama, American Girl

    American Girl. When Michelle Obama told a Milwaukee campaign rally last February, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," critics derided her as another Angry Black Woman ...

  9. Reading Michelle Obama's "Becoming" as a Motherhood Memoir

    February 5, 2019. In her memoir, "Becoming," Michelle Obama exposes the pressures and thrills of black women's self-creation while she details the rather more modest creation of a stable ...

  10. Becoming Analysis

    Analysis. Last Updated November 3, 2023. Becoming is Michelle Obama's critically-acclaimed and best-selling memoir, in which she narrates her "becoming"—her journey from dedicated ...

  11. 'Meaning of Michelle' Essays Celebrate First Lady's Realness

    First lady Michelle Obama welcomes community leaders from across the country to celebrate the successes and share best practices to continue the work of the Mayor's Challenge to End Veterans ...

  12. First Lady Michelle Obama

    First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is a lawyer, writer, and the wife of the 44th and current President, Barack Obama. She is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Through her four main initiatives, she has become a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families, higher education, and international adolescent girls ...

  13. Michelle Obama: We Still Need to 'Go High'

    8 minute read. 'Truthfully, I had no idea that the phrase 'we go high' would attach itself to me for years to come,' Michelle Obama writes in an excerpt from her new book, 'The Light We Carry ...

  14. Michelle Obama Is on a Mission to Revolutionize What Our Kids Eat

    Michelle Obama Is on a Mission to Revolutionize What Our Kids Eat. In this exclusive essay for Oprah Daily, the former First Lady tells us just how she plans to take on the food industry. Parenting demands something from every part of us—our bodies, our minds, our souls. And yes, our schedules. In between work and school, between soccer ...

  15. Essay On Michelle Obama

    Essay On Michelle Obama. A leader is someone who timelessly practice guiding others in pursuit of a goal, or desired outcome. At the most fundamental level, a leader is someone who motivates, inspires and guides others toward pre-established goals. One of the most prominent leaders and inspirational person is Michelle Lavaughn Robinson Obama ...

  16. PDF AP English Language and Composition

    Michelle Obama was the First Lady of the United States during the presidential administration of her husband, Barack Obama (2009-2017). During that ... essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices Obama makes to convey her message about her expectations and hope for young people in the United

  17. Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide

    Updated: 02/23/2008 09:51 AM EST. Michelle Obama's senior year thesis at Princeton University, obtained from the campaign by Politico, shows a document written by a young woman grappling with a ...

  18. Becoming by Michelle Obama Plot Summary

    Becoming Summary. Next. Chapter 1. Michelle Obama (born Michelle Robinson) grows up on the South Side of Chicago, in a neighborhood slowly being deserted by white and wealthy families. Michelle's family (which includes her mother, her father, and her older brother Craig) is a very tight-knit, middle-class family living together in a small ...

  19. Michelle Obama American Dream Speech Analysis

    He was facing Mitt Romney, a republican candidate, in the November 2012 polls. America's first lady, Michelle Obama, in her speech at the Democrats National Convention (DNC), told of how her husband was passionate about leading the Americans to eventually achieve the "American dream". We will write a custom essay on your topic. 809 ...

  20. Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama is the first lady of the United States . She became first lady in 2009, when her husband, Barack Obama , took office as president. She was the first African American first lady.

  21. Story of a Woman: "Becoming" by Michelle Obama

    Exclusively available on IvyPanda®. The book Becoming is a memoir written by Michelle Obama in 2018. As a former US First Lady, the author decided to share her personal experience and talk about her roots and the time in the White House. This book is not only a political source of information with several complex terms and ideas, but a story ...

  22. Michelle Obama Shares Her Lessons on Motherhood in a Moving Personal Essay

    Michelle Obama wrote a moving new essay for "People" about her lessons on motherhood for Mother's Day 2019. ... Malia, Sasha, and Michelle Obama attending the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

  23. Michele Obama's Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis Essay

    The first aspect of rhetoric used in this speech is logic. It implies the justification and reasons for a particular action or event. Michele Obama stated that "between 2008 and 2011, obesity rates among low-income preschoolers dropped in 19 states and territories across the country" (Read Michelle Obama's Speech on Food Marketing para. 10).

  24. Here's the Real Reason Why Michelle Obama's Mother Ended Up ...

    Michelle highlighted her mother's unconventional role in teaching Sasha and Malia how to do their laundry, a departure from the usual White House protocols. This hands-on approach reflected the ...

  25. Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey: A New Political Movement

    Oprah Winfrey, a media mogul, actress, and author, is best known for The Oprah Winfrey Show which ran from 1986 to 2011. She is known as the "Queen of All Media". Ms. Winfrey was the richest ...

  26. Welcome Speech for Graduation Ceremony [Edit & Download]

    Welcome Speech for Graduation Ceremony. Created by: Team English - Examples.com, Last Updated: May 27, 2024. Notes. AI Generator. Free Download. Welcome graduates and guests with an inspiring speech! 🎓 Download our customizable templates to make your ceremony unforgettable. 🌟.

  27. Obama Is a Surprise Guest Among Allies at Biden's State Dinner for

    May 23, 2024. Yes, Barack Obama was there. State dinners are best known as bear hugs for overseas allies, and Thursday's honoree was Kenya. But the sixth state dinner of President Biden's term ...

  28. Michelle Obama Turned Down One Of TV's Most Iconic Shows By ...

    Michelle Obama Turned Down The Simpsons Cameo Request By Writing 'Nice Try' On A Note . Credit to The Simpsons who were able to land Angela Bassett as Mrs. Obama during episode 15 in season 21 ...

  29. Cityline: Deesha Dyer shares her unconventional and undiplomatic journey

    CityLine Host. NEEDHAM, Mass. —. Deesha Dyer was a 31-year-old community college student when she landed a dream internship in the Obama White House. In her book "Undiplomatic: How My Attitude ...

  30. Reaction to the death of Bill Walton, the Hall of Famer who died Monday

    Community papers. Del Mar Times; Encinitas Advocate; La Jolla Light; ... and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family." — former President Barack Obama. ___ "Bill was a ...