Michelle Obama's Parents Marian Robinson and Fraser Robinson III — What We Know about Them

Jaimie-lee Prince
May 03, 2020
06:00 P.M.
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Former First Lady Michelle Obama has a story to tell that's quite unlike the women who came before her. The most important part is perhaps her parents, who raised her to become the woman she is today. 

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Michelle Obama, the wife of former President Barack Obama, is lucky in that her ancestry can be traced back for a few years. Unfortunately, her history is not such a bright one. 

Like most African Americans, Michelle's origins lie in slavery. In her book "American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama," Rachel Swarns describes what happened. 

Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama at the State Dinner on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, August 2, 2016. | Photo: Getty Images

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MICHELLE'S EARLIEST FAMILY HISTORY

As a child — and a slave — Michelle Obama's great-great-great-grandmother Melvinia birthed a son just before the end of the Civil War and freedom for slaves. 

She had other children, all of whom were hard to track due to the times, her illiteracy, and the move Melvinia made all the way to Georgia. One of those children would see their descendants enter the white house. 

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HER FATHER FRASER HAD MS

Michelle Obama's father was named Fraser Robinson III. Born in Chicago, he and his wife Marian Robinson are also parents to Michelle's brother, Craig Robinson. 

Fraser was a hard worker who did all he could to provide for his family — even when he couldn't walk on his own due to having multiple sclerosis. The condition progressed over time. 

At first, Fraser made do with just one cane to get around. By the time Michelle left elementary school, her dad was using two canes. In all that time, he worked resiliently at a Chicago water filtration plant.

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THE LESSONS HE TAUGHT

In her book, "Becoming," Michelle wrote about the lessons she learned from her father who taught her "to work hard, laugh often, and keep my word." She also noted that her dad never showed regret or self-pity.

Sadly, Fraser passed away at just 55 years old due to complications from multiple sclerosis. "He is the hole in my heart. His loss is my scar," Michelle said in a speech to Chicago high school graduates.

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MICHELLE'S MOM IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Michelle's mom is still alive, though, and has seen her child reach the peak of female leadership in the country as well as accompanied her in the White House. 

Before leaving to go to Washington, D.C., Marian was comfortable at her home in Chicago. She had never lived anywhere else. However, she was concerned for her daughter and her grandkids. 

"I felt like this was going to be a very hard life for both of them," the 82-year-old said in 2018. Michelle was happy that her mother was there to care for her daughters while she was out being the First Lady. 

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HOW MARIAN RAISED HER KIDS

The role of First Lady was one Marian prepared her for. Michelle once told People that, "when it came to raising her kids, my mom knew that her voice was less important than allowing me to use my own." 

She went onto credit both parents with instilling in her a deep sense of knowing right from wrong and emanating "goodness and honesty." Plus, they let their children be themselves. 

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MICHELLE'S MESSAGE AMID THE OUTBREAK

Michelle is still close to her mom, although they no longer live in the same house. During the quarantine period amid the coronavirus pandemic, she shared a photo of her and Marian along with a message for others. 

The 56-year-old reminded her followers to keep in touch with their loved ones now that they have extra time on their hands and a shared challenge to get through. 

The mother-daughter duo looked lovely in a grayscale photo, which showed both smiling brightly and wearing sweaters. Indeed, Michelle's parents are beautiful, just like her. 

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