Michelle Obama is giving us another glimpse of who she is, thanks to her new Netflix documentary, Becoming, based on the book tour promoting her memoirs of the same name. The world knew Michelle as the first lady of the United States, where she was constantly under the camera’s gaze in a politically divided United States. So how much of it did we really see?
As Michelle and Barack Obama both moved from the White House to a post-presidential life, the public had the opportunity to increasingly welcome this remarkable woman. As the Daily Beast says: “Obama is a compelling, engaging, magnetic storyteller, incredibly fun and capable of giving just the right amount of private access to her life to feel like you know her as a friend outside the White House.”
Thanks largely to the publication of her 2018 memoirs, it seems that the spotlight has turned away from her husband and focused on Michelle. With the launch of her Netflix documentary, there is a lot we want to know about this enigmatic person, especially the early parts of her life, her parents, and her childhood to see what made Michelle become the woman we love and respect today.
Michelle Obama came from the south side of Chicago
In the trailer for her Netflix documentary, Becoming Michelle Obama, she talks about her childhood in a much more relaxed environment than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Michelle takes viewers back to her hometown and says, “I am from the south side of Chicago. That tells them everything I need to know about me. She describes her childhood environment: “It was a typical working-class community: good music, good barbecue, good times.”
Michelle’s parents were Fraser and Marian Robinson, according to her official biography. Her father worked as a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department and worked diligently throughout his childhood, “even though he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age.” Michelle’s mother, Marian, stayed home to raise her and her older brother, Craig. According to Michelle’s biography, Marian skillfully managed “a busy family filled with love, laughter, and important life lessons.”
According to The Washington Post, former first lady Michelle Obama and her mother, Marian Robinson, share a very close bond, which began during Michelle’s childhood and continued into adulthood.
Marian came to live with the Obamas in the White House during the Barack Obama presidency, something that solidified the closeness between mother and daughter. Despite this deep affection, Marian is not shy about roasting her famous daughter from time to time.
For example, in 2019, Michelle shared a text message from her mother with the hashtag, ‘Mommy Texts,’ which showed the hilarious and very intimate relationship between this mother-daughter duo. According to The Washington Post, Marian texted her daughter saying, “I guess you were a hit at the Grammys,” implying that she was upset, Michelle didn’t tell her about the big event.
Michelle replied, “I am sitting here with Valerie and this text is so typically you. Did you saw it? “Then Marian said a friend reminded her and replied to her daughter,” Did you meet any of the royal stars or did you run away just after you were done?”
Michelle insisted that she had told her mother that she would be at the Grammys, but Marian said, “No, you didn’t. I would have remembered it although I don’t remember much”. Michelle stood firm and added, “And I’m a real star … by the way.” To which Marian joked: “Yes.”
Michelle Obama’s counselor tried to quench her dreams
According to her official White House biography, Michelle Obama studied in Chicago public schools and then studied sociology and African American studies at Princeton University. She then graduated from Harvard Law School in 1988 and joined the Sidley & Austin law firm of Chicago, where she met Barack Obama.
While all of this seems incredible, the journey was much more complicated, especially during Michelle’s childhood. In the Netflix trailer for Becoming Michelle, she talks in an interview about how some people tried to prevent her from achieving her dreams. The interviewer asks, “In high school, your counselor did not see in you what she saw in you.” Michelle agrees and explains, “She decided she was going too high.”
Fortunately, Michelle did not listen to this person. Not only that, but she is using her own pain to lift others up. Later in the Netflix trailer, a young woman asks Michelle, “How did you persevere as a black woman? Michelle responds: We cannot allow ourselves to wait for the world to be the same before beginning to feel seen.”
On an incredibly optimistic note, Michelle says, “I feel like I have to share with you that the energy that exists is so much better than what we see.”