LIVING HISTORY: From the South Side of Chicago First lady Michelle Obama has risen to soaring heights. Her journey to the top is an inspiring one AP Photo
First Lady Michelle Obama an inspirational figure this Women’s History Month
First, is a term Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, has become quite familiar with. From first generation college graduate to First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has defied the odds to become first in achieving some monumental things.
Born to working class parents on the South Side of Chicago, the first odds Michelle defeated were the statistics surrounding African American girls raised in Chicago’s inner city in the 1960s and 1970s.
At a time when Chicago’s poverty rate was close to 30 percent for African Americans compared to 7.4 percent among whites, the goal in many Black households was survival.
In the Robinson family however, Michelle’s parents worked to ensure something greater for their children. The emphasis the Robinson’s placed on academics and hard work paid in big dividends, first when Michelle’s older brother went to the prestigious Ivy League, Princeton University becoming the first in his family to graduate college. Following in his footsteps, Michelle got her undergraduate degree from Princeton and went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School.
Michelle and her brother’s achievements early on, marked great strides for their family. Their parents, neither of whom had the opportunity to earn college degrees, had now created a generation of college graduates that would undoubtedly pass on for posterity.
After passing the bar, Michelle accepted a position at a prominent law firm in Chicago, at the time, the only African American in her department and one of the few in the company.
Michelle went on to meet Barack Obama at the firm when he was later hired as an intern and she was assigned as his mentor.
Before long the two were dating and after two years, they were married. Once they stepped into the arena of politics, more historic “firsts” were in store.
In 2008 Barack Obama was elected the 43rd president of the United States making him the first African American POTUS this nation had ever seen, and Michelle the first African American First Lady in our history.
Michelle however, is remarkable in her position as FLOTUS for more than just her racial background. Michelle is continuing of a trend of more educated First Ladies. Michelle is the third First Lady in history with a postgraduate degree, after her two immediate predecessors, Hilary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush.
Michelle, along with Hillary Clinton are debatably the only First Ladies in history with the credentials themselves to run the country. Michelle delivered key speeches during both of her husband’s campaigns for office that contributed to his success.
As a First Lady, Michelle began the Let’s Move! initiative in 2010 “to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.” Let’s Move! Supports parents in constructing a more active and healthy lifestyle for their children. It encourages exercise among children and helps schools provide healthier affordable lunches.
In 2011, the First Lady together with Jill Biden, enacted a second initiative entitled Joining Forces to support U.S. military families.
A game changer in many ways, Michelle Obama has been heralded by the New York Times among others, as “an unrecognized force in her husband’s administration.” A motivator and team player, Mrs. Obama has worked to make her role as First Lady meaningful.
Michelle’s story of struggle and achievement is uplifting and inspiring – one to be celebrated this March, our nation’s recognized Women’s History Month.
For more information on Women’s History Month and ideas on ways to observe it, visit womenshistorymonth.gov