Girl from the South Side and former First Lady. Wife, mother, dog lover. Always hugger-in-chief. #IAmBecoming
Girl from the South Side and former First Lady. Wife, mother, dog lover. Always hugger-in-chief. #IAmBecoming
These two folks are LaVaughn Robinson and Fraser Robinson, Jr.—better known to me as Grandma and Dandy, my grandparents on my father’s side. For years, Grandma managed a thriving Bible bookstore on the South Side of Chicago. She was perhaps my first example of a professional woman, showing me that being graceful and being in command weren’t mutually exclusive. Dandy, meanwhile, had moved to Chicago from South Carolina as a young man in pursuit of better opportunities. Brilliant and a hard worker, his hopes were mostly dashed by the discrimination he faced as a black man. His skin color closed most doors to him—landing a good job or even joining a union. Still, he pieced together odd jobs until finally, years later ended up working with the postal service, a job he held for thirty years. Dandy and Grandma raised a beautiful family of five children, and to this day, their stories are woven together with my own; their sacrifices and successes are braided into everything I’ve become. On #GrandparentsDay, I hope you’ll all send a little love your grandparents’ way. Give them a call if you can—or simply hold them in your heart, grateful for all that they’ve given you.
It’s after Labor Day, so I’m thinking about all the young people heading back to school and reflecting on my own days as a student in Chicago. I learned a lot in school—how to do my multiplication tables and structure a paragraph, yes, but also how to push myself, be a good friend, and dust myself off after a failure. It’s so easy for us to take our education for granted, especially here in the United States. Right now, more than 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. I believe every girl on the planet deserves the same kind of opportunities that I’ve had—a chance to fulfill her potential and pursue her dreams. We know that when we give girls a chance to learn, they’ll seize it. And when they do, our whole world benefits. Girls who go to school have healthier children, higher salaries, lower poverty rates, and they can even help boost their entire nation’s economy. So today on #WorldCharityDay, I want you to share your favorite #BackToSchool photo and to join the @girlsopportunityalliance to take action for global girls’ education. Visit the link in my bio to learn more—because the future of our world is only as bright as our girls.
I first heard about Kim Ha when she shared her story for my @BetterMakeRoom campaign in 2016. She’s a Houston native and her parents immigrated to our country from Vietnam and Mexico. Growing up, her parents worked hard but sometimes struggled to make ends meet, experiencing periods of unemployment between jobs in the oil industry, working at gas stations, and picking produce in the agricultural fields. Some days, Kim said, her only meal of the day came from the school cafeteria. But she kept her eyes on getting her college degree—even when she wasn’t sure she could afford it, even when she wasn’t sure she’d get accepted, even when she’d made it to campus but still worried that she might not graduate. She persevered, and while she was at college—she found her passion: Reaching back and lifting up others who come from backgrounds like hers. Today, Kim is a first-generation college graduate from Texas A&M University. She plans to attend law school and become an immigration lawyer, so she can help those who feel marginalized or left behind. Her advice to others in her shoes: “If I could tell any student who’s wondering if they are worthy of going to college, please know that you are. You are able, you are strong, and you can do it. This is our country and this is our future in the making.” For me, Kim is proof that our diversity is our strength—and that no matter what challenges we might face, our brightest days are ahead of us because the future belongs to young people like her. #BetterMakeRoom
In 2009, I planted the kitchen garden on the South Lawn of the White House. And as those seedlings started to sprout, so did a national conversation about the way we feed our children, the impact of healthy food on underserved communities, and the beautiful things that happen when young people come together in a garden. So I couldn’t be more proud of Ciara Byrne, one of our 2019 #ObamaFellows, who’s growing gardens like these across the desert to not only help kids learn science and math, but also understand the importance of taking care of our planet. Keep up the good work, @greenourplanet !
Watching #AmericanFactory, I thought a lot about my dad. That blustery Midwestern weather, the shift workers in their uniforms—it’s what he lived every day. His work was his pride and his sense of purpose; it’s what allowed him to pay the bills and send his two kids to college. I saw a lot of that dignity in this film; a spirit that connects us no matter if we’re in Chicago or Ohio, no matter what we look like or what our background is. This documentary portrays that pride, and adds in all sorts of depth and layers and complications, which makes it exactly the kind of storytelling Barack and I hope to accomplish with Higher Ground Productions. We want to help foster an ability to see ourselves in each other’s stories. That’s something we talked about with Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who directed American Factory, over coffee. See for yourself at the link in the bio and then check out their excellent documentary, which is now streaming on @Netflix
Always breaking barriers, @SimoneBiles —couldn’t be more proud of you!
It feels like we could all use an uplifting story right about now. So let me tell you about an incredible young man I met a few years ago, Oscar McClain. What I love about Oscar’s story is that no matter how many ups and downs he’s been through, he’s always remained resilient on his journey of becoming. Just before he started high school, Oscar lost his grandfather. But he decided to turn his grief into determination, pouring his energy into his studies. Four years later, he was salutatorian of his high school class and joined me at the White House for my #BeatingTheOdds Summit. He went on to Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, where he knew he’d have to be just as purposeful to reach a new set of goals. So he reached out to his professors and found a network of peers who kept him steady. But even so, last summer was hard. He faced another loss—this time, his father. It’s the kind of loss you carry with every step, every breath. Trust me, I know. But here’s how Oscar paid tribute to his father: He doubled down on everything he’d learned from him, and lived with dignity and purpose that would make his father proud. This May, he graduated college with a degree in Chemistry and a 3.7 GPA. Because as he told me this summer, “Overcoming obstacles is what causes success to be worth achieving.” I’m so proud of you, Oscar! #BetterMakeRoom
This afternoon, I was thrilled to visit with @CocoGauff When we talk about the potential of our young people, we often think about it as some far-off promise, years or decades away. But the truth is they have so much to offer us right now—something we all saw a few weeks ago at Wimbledon. Coco is a wonderful young woman who’s showing us that we don’t have to wait to see what the next generation can do.
As part of #NationalGirlfriendsDay, let's give a shoutout to the friends who always have our backs! My girlfriends aren’t just people I like to hang out with—though we do plenty of that—they’re a vital part of who I am and who I’ll keep becoming. What are some ways your girlfriends have supported you? Tag them in the comments below.
Whenever I see this picture, and the look in my mother’s eyes, I wonder if she has any idea what’s coming in the decades ahead: Real love and real loss, children and grandchildren who’d keep her on her toes, a wild ride to places she’d only read about or seen on television. But I also see something else in those eyes, something that guided me every day from the moment I was born—her unflappable belief that whatever came her way, she’d manage it. And because she’d manage, we all would, too. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you!
On #NationalDanceDay, I'm shouting out the Lethal Ladies, a Baltimore STEP team who I saw perform back in 2017. I’m so proud of you all—and everyone who’s dancing today!
This is Darius Wesley, who I first met at a #BeatingTheOdds Summit back in 2014. Back then, he’d just graduated from North Lawndale College Prep in my hometown of Chicago. Growing up on the west side of the city, Darius lost friends and family members to violence and drugs. In high school, he was forced to uproot his life when his mother faced a series of health issues. At times, Darius told me, he just wanted to give up. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. It’s not who he is. Five years later, he’s channeled the lessons he learned while overcoming those obstacles into a marketing degree at Cleveland State University—becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. I could not be prouder of this young man. Looking back, Darius said, "I appreciate those challenges-–they caused me to reach back and remember the support system that I have in the back of my pocket. All of the teachers and coaches that believe in me as a player, as a student, as a person. My mother, sisters, and brothers are all looking for me to just do better." Next Tuesday, Darius will once again join me in DC for our 5th anniversary #BeatingTheOdds Summit with @ReachHigher2020 —one of the most inspiring days of the year. And in the meantime, I want to hear from all of you: Who's a young person in your life who is #BeatingTheOdds? Share their stories with me in the comments below. #ReachHigher
Wishing a wonderful birthday to @Malala ! When I first met Malala a few years back, I was blown away by her eloquence and her conviction to stand up for girls just like her in every corner of the globe. That conversation helped inspire me to focus more deeply on girls’ education around the world. Right now, there are tens of millions of girls who are not in school—girls who are bright, hardworking, and hungry to learn. To celebrate #MalalaDay, join me and @GirlsOpportunityAlliance in our work to empower girls in countries like South Africa, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. I hope you'll head over to the link in my bio to learn more and get involved.
At the Women’s World Cup, we saw how sports can focus, inspire, and elevate us all. Thuba Sibanda is an @ObamaFoundation leader who’s using sports to empower girls in Namibia every single day. You can support leaders like Thuba through the @GirlsOpportunityAlliance , and I hope you do. Check out the link in my bio to learn more and get involved.
I was lucky enough to share a few moments with Cameron Boyce—on set, at the White House, and on a service project—enough time to recognize that not only did he have incredible talent, but also an incredible heart. Sending out a lot of love and hugs to his family, friends, and his many, many fans.
One thing I keep hearing from women across the country is how hard it is for us to put ourselves first. We're the first to care for our friends, families, coworkers, but we are last on our own list. The good news is we can make a change. I’ve seen it in my own life. And that starts with all of us as women searching within ourselves and our stories—and sharing what we’ve learned with one another. So I want to hear from you! What do you do to make yourself more of a priority?
Hey, #EssenceFest! I brought a few of my girlfriends with me to New Orleans and we can't wait to join you tonight in the Superdome. Who's ready?!
Pretty grateful for this guy. Happy Father’s Day!
I love this photo of my father because it shows so much of his presence—his strength, his poise, and yes, his style. My dad was pretty cool. He was proud and warm with a smooth baritone voice and ready laugh. He was also quite punctual, as you can see from his wristwatch suntan. But I also love this photo because its imperfections capture a lot about what it’s like for me to think about him today. This snapshot is a reminder that all memories are somewhat incomplete, a photographic representation that my time with him was cut short. And that’s ok—that’s life. And that’s why, today and every day, I’m grateful for all of it: for every imperfect photograph, for every incomplete memory, and for the many wonderful, beautiful years I had to learn and love — and be loved by — my father. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you and I’ll love you forever.
Chicago is the city that taught me what it means to give back. I was a few years into my career when I decided to leave my law firm, diving into city government and nonprofit work. Over the years, I ended up visiting parts of the city I hadn’t been to before, spending time with elderly residents, supporting promising young leaders, and working to bridge the divide between a hospital and the community it served. It was all so inspiring and motivating—some of the work I’m most proud of to this day—and it gave me skills and lessons that I’m still applying every day. That’s why I was so thrilled to hear about this week's first-ever Civic Action Awards, where the @ObamaFoundation and @ChiPubSchools honored those who’ve made a powerful impact inside and outside of school. Congratulations to all the winners—and it’s great to see so many of you getting an earlier start than me!
At the end of this extraordinary #IAmBecoming tour, I want to say thank you to all of you who’ve been a part of this journey. Thanks for what you do every day—for doing the right thing; for living with honesty and compassion. It’s up to us to stay hopeful for the next generation. #MondayMotivation
People don’t get to where they are if they go at it alone. Last week, I met the new class of #ObamaFellows—20 leaders from around the world who are doing the type of work that will create a better future for all of us. We talked about what keeps us going and how important it is to have help along the way. With support from the @ObamaFoundation —and each other—our hope is that these Fellows will continue to grow and expand their work, changing the world for generations to come.
Growing up, every time I’d come home from school with a story to share, my mother was there with a snack and a listening ear to hear about what was on my mind. When I came home with a tale about my disastrous second-grade classroom, she marched into the school to figure out what was going on. And as I grew older, including up through my years as First Lady, she was always there for me as a guiding light through whatever fog was clouding my path. She’s always listened more than she lectured; observed more than she demonstrated. In doing so, she allowed me to think for myself and develop my own voice. From an early age, she saw that I had a flame inside me, and she never tempered it. She made sure that I could keep it lit. Mom, thank you for kindling that fire within me, and for your example as a mother and a grandmother to our girls. We would never be who we are today without you. #HappyMothersDay, Mom. Love you. ❤️
With #MothersDay just a couple days away, I find myself thinking a lot about the way my mother raised me. And even though our family was crammed into a tiny apartment, one of the greatest gifts she gave me was the freedom to explore and develop into my own person. For instance, even though we didn’t have much money, she and my dad cobbled enough money together to send me on a high-school trip to Paris, which opened up the world to me in so many ways. And now that I’m raising kids of my own, I wanted to pass that lesson on to my own girls. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to travel with Sasha and Malia all across the country and around the world—experiences my mother never would have dreamed of back when I was their age. But though the settings may be different, the message is the same, and it’s one I hope mothers everywhere pass on to their daughters—in seeking out new perspectives and reaching outside of our comfort zones, we can discover more about ourselves.
As we prepare for #MothersDay on Sunday, I wanted to take a moment to shine a light on those women in our lives who may not be our mothers, but have nonetheless played an important role in nurturing us. I’ve been grateful to be surrounded by so many strong, intelligent, warm-hearted women who, along with my mother, have made me who I am. They include my soft-spoken grandmother LaVaughn, whose work managing a Bible book store showed me some of my first glimpses of a woman in charge. I sparred with my Aunt Robbie, who lived below us, during piano lessons—but her teaching showed me the importance of hard work and preparation, and she was always there for me when I needed her most. My mentor at Princeton, Czerny, saw potential in me and did her part to get me to step outside of my comfort zone—to be a little more bold, a little less cautious. And then there’s Eleanor Kaye Wilson, who we call “Mama Kaye.” She’s sweet-hearted and deep-rooted, a second mother or grandmother for all four of us—Malia, Sasha, Barack, and me. She’s been there to help with mealtime, craft time, been to all of our events over so many years—a wonderful friend and confidant to my mother. We love her, just like we love so many supportive women whose stories and contributions often go unrecognized, but who deserve just as much appreciation and love this time of year. So if there’s a Mama Kaye or a Czerny, a Grandma LaVaughn or an Aunt Robbie in your life, make sure to show them some love this weekend, too.
Through our work together to honor and support military families, I saw what an inspiration Jill Biden is to those around her. Her memoir, “Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself,” is out today—I hope you’ll read it. #WheretheLightEnters
This amazing smile belongs to a young man named Duvall Footman, who I met at #CollegeSigningDay in Los Angeles. Duvall’s already seen his share of adversity—by the time he turned 18, he had lost both of his parents. But he’s made it his goal to do them proud by working hard in school, and he’s set his sights on one day getting a degree in film and television. He currently attends Antelope Valley Community College with plans to continue his education @UCLA next year. Outside of his studies, Duvall plans to continue to mentor young people like him to make sure they know they can pursue their dreams, too. He’s seen the power of belief and resilience in his own life. And today he says: "I know that I have been gifted and favored to overcome every obstacle in my path." All I can say is that I think the world #BetterMakeRoom for Duvall. #ReachHigher
I’m so proud of the next class of #ObamaFellows—civic leaders already working in communities from Hanoi to Nairobi to New Orleans. They’ve brought hope to marginalized communities, helped protect our planet, and empowered women to take charge of change. What they’ve accomplished on their own is remarkable—and now, with the @ObamaFoundation , we’re excited to see what they can learn from each other.
So proud of my girl! The Queen has done it again. @Beyonce , thank you for always living your truth. #BeyonceHomecoming
I will never forget the first time I walked into the Notre Dame Cathedral. I was a teenager on a school trip to Paris. It was my very first international trip, and until then, I hadn’t seen much outside of the South Side neighborhood I grew up in. But the majesty of Notre Dame—the history, the artistry, the spirituality—took my breath away. The feeling was almost indescribable—a place that lifts you to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be. Every time I’ve visited in the years since, including as First Lady, I felt the same thing. So being here in Paris tonight, my heart aches with the people of France. Yet I know that the Notre Dame I experienced all those years ago, as so many others have over the centuries, will soon awe us again.
I’m traveling in Europe right now for my #IAmBecoming tour and my brother just sent me one of the best texts I’ve ever received. My father gave us absolutely everything. The laughs and lessons, the hugs, the heartache from losing him—they’re all still there with me, every minute. Each of us has our own perspectives and emotions; our own journeys in the moment and in the years since. And that’s why it’s so important to share our stories with each other—not just to remember, but to connect. Even an ocean away. Love you, big brother. ❤️
I’m so thrilled to be in Europe this week! We kicked off our trip in Copenhagen, tonight we’re in Stockholm, and we’ll also make our way to Oslo, London, Paris, and Amsterdam. I’m so excited to visit these beautiful cities and can’t wait to hear the inspiring stories from so many new faces. And I want to keep hearing from all of you! What questions do you have? Share in the comments below.👇🏾#IAmBecoming