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Michelle Obama is the ex-wife/first lady of the United States of America (circa 2007-2016)
 
Michelle Obama is the ex-wife/first lady of the United States of America (circa 2007-2016)
   

Revision as of 13:47, May 2, 2020

220px-Michelle Obama 2013 official portrait

Michelle Obama is the ex-wife/first lady of the United States of America (circa 2007-2016)

Early Life and Ancestory

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois, to Fraser Robinson III (1935–1991),[3] a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain, and Marian Shields Robinson (b. July 30, 1937), a secretary at Spiegel's catalog store.[4] Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Michelle entered high school.[5]

The Robinson and Shields families trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South.[3] On her father's side, she is descended from the Gullah people of South Carolina's Low Country region.[6] Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was born into slavery in 1850 on Friendfield Plantation, near Georgetown, South Carolina.[7][8] He became a freedman at age 15 after the war. Some of Obama's paternal family still reside in the Georgetown area.[9][10] Her grandfather Fraser Robinson, Jr. built his own house in South Carolina. He and his wife LaVaughn (née Johnson) returned to the Low Country from Chicago after retirement.[7]

Among her maternal ancestors was her great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, born into slavery in South Carolina but sold to Henry Walls Shields, who had a 200-acre farm in Clayton County, Georgia near Atlanta. Melvinia's first son, Dolphus T. Shields, was biracial and born into slavery around 1860. Based on DNA and other evidence, in 2012 researchers said his father was likely 20-year-old Charles Marion Shields, son of Melvinia's master. They may have had a continuing relationship, as she had two more mixed-race children and lived near Shields after emancipation, taking his surname (she later changed her surname).[11]

As was often the case, Melvinia did not talk to relatives about Dolphus's father.[12] Dolphus Shields, with his wife Alice, moved to Birmingham, Alabama after the Civil War. They were great-great-grandparents of Michelle Robinson, whose grandparents had moved to Chicago.[12] Other of their children's lines migrated to Cleveland, Ohio in the 20th century.[11]

All four of Robinson's grandparents had multiracial ancestors, reflecting the complex history of the U.S. Her extended family has said that people did not talk about the era of slavery when they were growing up.[11] Her distant ancestry includes Irish, English, and Native American roots.[13] Among her contemporary extended family is Rabbi Capers Funnye; born in Georgetown, South Carolina. Funnye is the son of her grandfather Robinson's sister and her husband, and he is about 12 years older than Michelle. Funnye converted to Judaism after college. He is a paternal first cousin once-removed.[14][15]

Robinson's childhood home was on the upper floor of 7436 South Euclid Avenue in Chicago's South Shore community area, which her parents rented from her great-aunt, who had the first floor.[4][16][17][18] She was raised in what she describes as a "conventional" home, with "the mother at home, the father works, you have dinner around the table".[19] Her elementary school was down the street. She and her family enjoyed playing games such as Monopoly, reading, and frequently saw extended family on both sides.[20] She played piano,[21] learning from her great-aunt who was a piano teacher.[22] The Robinsons attended services at nearby South Shore United Methodist Church.[16] They used to vacation in a rustic cabin in White Cloud, Michigan.[16] She and her 21-month older brother, Craig, skipped the second grade.[4][23]

Her father suffered from multiple sclerosis, which had a profound emotional effect on her as she was growing up. She was determined to stay out of trouble and be a good student, which was what her father wanted for her.[24] By sixth grade, Michelle joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School (later renamed Bouchet Academy).[25] She attended Whitney Young High School,[26] Chicago's first magnet high school, established as a selective enrollment school, where she was a classmate of Jesse Jackson's daughter Santita.[20] The round-trip commute from the Robinsons' South Side home to the Near West Side, where the school was located, took three hours.[27] Michelle recalled being fearful of how others would perceive her, but disregarded any negativity around her and used it "to fuel me, to keep me going".[28][29] She recalled facing gender discrimination growing up, saying, for example, that rather than asking her for her opinion on a given subject, people commonly tended to ask what her older brother thought.[30] She was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, was a member of the National Honor Society, and served as student council treasurer.[4] She graduated in 1981 as the salutatorian of her class.[27]

Relationships

Michelle Obama is currently in a romantic relationship with Crash Bandicoot

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