Michelle Obama achieved international fame as the wife of President Barack Obama. However, this first lady didn’t stay in her husband’s shadow very long. And thanks to her autobiography Becoming, we know much more about Michelle’s childhood and who shaped her into the woman she is today.
But if you don’t feel like reading her entire memoir, we’ve got the truth about Michelle Obama’s childhood right here!
Michelle is Chicago real
It’s easy to look at her wealth and celebrity status and imagine that Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson) was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
She was actually born and raised in the Southside of Chicago. In her words, this was a “working-class community” known for “good music” and “good barbeque.” And while she has certainly moved up in the world, it’s clear that Michelle looks back on Chicago’s Southside very fondly.
This working-class upbringing is important because it instilled in her the need to fight for others from a young age.
Michelle was the youngest in her family
Michelle and Barack would go on to have two lovely daughters. It’s natural, then, to be curious about whether she comes from a bigger or smaller family.
As it turns out, her family was the exact same size. She was the youngest child to parents Fraser and Marian Robinson. And she only has one sibling: an older brother (Craig Robinson) who went on to become head basketball coach for the Oregon State Beavers and later worked for the New York Knicks.
The “babies” in a family typically have to fight to stand out from their siblings. Fortunately, Michelle distinguished herself early on.
Michelle was gifted from a young age
Eventually, Michelle Obama would achieve more academic accomplishments than you can shake a stick at. But you might be surprised to learn that this journey towards academic excellence started back in sixth grade.
That’s when Michelle was chosen as a gifted student and given a chance to take advanced classes. These included French classes and advanced biology classes at the nearby Kennedy-King Community College.
When you imagine a sixth-grader taking classes fit for a college freshman, you’ll start to see just how smart Michelle really is!
Michelle’s interest in government started in high school
Like we said before, Michelle Obama’s time as the First Lady means that she will always be associated with the government. Interestingly, though, her “government” involvement goes back to her high school days.
At her magnet school (the first one in Chicago), Michelle continued her academic journey by taking various AP classes. She not only made it to the Honor Society, but she served as Treasurer for the Student Council.
Long story short? It looks like Michelle learned to play politics long before she met and married Barack Obama.
Michelle once clashed with a guidance counselor
Not everything was perfect when it came to Michelle Obama’s education, however. One particular fly in the ointment came from her guidance counselor.
The role of a guidance counselor is to help students find a path to their dreams. Michelle was a bit different because she had already chosen a path and already had big dreams for what she wanted to do with her life.
When talking about this counselor, Michelle said this: “She decided I was reaching too high.” This was an unfortunate case where Michelle was soaring as a student and this person tries to keep the young woman on the ground.
Fortunately, Michelle Obama never stopped reaching high. And she never stopped turning those ambitions into accomplishments!
Sadly, Michelle’s father died young
There are few things that could knock Michelle off of her course in life. But she was only in her 20s when she experienced the tragic death of her father.
According to Michelle, this event triggered some serious depression. “It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does…. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. Grief is so lonely this way.”
Eventually, she moved past this grief and continued on with her life. But considering that her dad was only 55 when he died, it seems likely this taught her to make the most out of each and every day.
Michelle shares a close bond with her mother
While Michelle Obama’s father died young, her mother is still alive. Her mother Marian Robinson was a powerful force in her childhood, and the two now enjoy a special bond.
For example, Marian moved in with Michelle and Barack during their time at the White House. Instead of driving each other up the wall, this close proximity helped strengthen a bond that was already quite powerful.
The two enjoy some light banter, with mom teasing Michelle via the occasional hilarious text message. They may no longer live together, but these two know how to stay connected wherever they are.
Secrets still to come
While these details about Michelle Obama’s childhood are juicy, the best are likely yet to come. That’s because Michelle has likely been keeping some awesome stories up her sleeve for the Netflix documentary. In the meantime, you can always check out Michelle’s best-selling autobiography to learn more secrets about her childhood.