January 17, 1964 – Michelle Obama is born: First Lady Michelle Obama was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in Chicago. Her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, raised Michelle and her brother Craig in a one bedroom apartment in an atmosphere of love that fostered their achievement.
Early life fun fact: Michelle and her brother Craig were so smart, they both skipped a year — second grade (although they were born 16 months apart).
1981 – Michelle graduates from high school: The future first lady graduated as the salutatorian (second only to the valedictorian) of her class at Chicago’s first magnet high school, Whitney Young High School.
1982 – Michelle attends her senior prom: The young Ms. Robinson stepped out in a silky floor length number with her first boyfriend, David Upchurch. Their relationship ended when Michelle followed her brother to Princeton.
1985 – Michelle graduates from Princeton University: Obama graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Sociology. Her senior thesis, “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community,” would later draw scrutiny during her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign.
1988 – Michelle graduates from Harvard Law School: Obama participated in demonstrations to increase minority enrollment and teacher representation while there.
1989 – Michelle assigned to mentor Barack Obama: After joining the law firm Sidley Austin in 1988, Michelle was assigned to manage the future president who was a summer intern. He asked her out after about a month.
First date fun fact: The future first couple’s first date was to see the seminal Spike Lee flick Do the Right Thing. But Michelle has often said she first fell in love with Barack when she saw him speaking at a community organizing meeting.
1991 – Fraser Robinson dies: Michelle often referred to her father as “her hero,” who always inspired her to be her very best. He passed away at 56 due to complications related to multiple sclerosis.
1992 – Michelle and Barack Obama marry: The president proposed to Michelle after they had dated for two years.
1993 – Michelle Obama enters her life of service: Soon after marrying, Michelle left her law firm job for a more rewarding career serving the public. She went on to work for then-Mayor Daley, a non-profit, and the University of Chicago, all in executive positions.
July 4, 1998 – Malia Ann Obama is born:First Lady Michelle Obama gave birth to the couple’s first child of two, and would soon adjust her work schedule to better accommodate their care.
1999 – Michelle Obama hits campaign trail for the first time: Mrs. O got a taste of political life when she attempted to help her husband win a vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which could have been Barack’s first national office. Then an Illinois state senator, Obama’s eventual loss still prepared them for their coming rise.
June 10, 2001 – Natasha Obama is born: Nicknamed Sasha, the youngest Obama daughter would later attend Hyde Park’s Lab School with her sister, which was associated with the University of Chicago where their mother worked before devoting more time to Barack’s campaigns.
2005 – Barack Obama sworn is as U.S. Senator: Obama had been elected the previous November — and the whole family proudly witnessed his ascension to national office. One year later, Michelle’s income would actually exceed his by over $120,000.
2006 – Michelle Obama named one of 25 of the World’s Most Inspiring Women: Essence bestowed this honor on Michelle when she was still working as a university administrator. (She is seen here from a shoot in 2009.) Soon that would change, as within a year Barack would make his presidential aspirations clear.
2007 – Michelle hits the campaign trail: Always ambivalent about campaigning, Mrs. O did her part to help Barack raise money and gain supporters while making sure to put her daughters first.
2008 – Obama secures the presidential nomination & Michelle makes fashionistas take notice: Wearing this elegant sheath with an Azzedine Alaia belt, this was the first outfit of many that would paint Michelle as an upcoming style icon.
2008 – Michelle wows at the Democratic National Convention: Her speech early in the proceedings gave America a taste of the passionate energy of service served up with her signature style that would eventually make Michelle such a dynamic first lady.
2008 – Michelle presents… her stylish family: Although she has come to represent much more than fashion, this didn’t stop Mrs. Obama from color-coordinating her brood for her husband’s nomination acceptance speech.
2008 – Michelle Obama uses style as a weapon: During Barack’s election campaign, the future first lady took a quieter role but used stunning dresses accented with unique accessories to express the youthful vitality of her husband’s ideas to their diverse base of supporters.
2008 – Named best dressed: Michelle Obama was part of Vanity Fair’s 2008 International Best-Dressed List, her first step towards becoming a fashion powerhouse.
2008 – Michelle becomes honorary AKA: Obama accepted the invitation of the 104-year-old black female sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which had no active chapter at Princeton when she attended.
2008 – Her star continues to rise: Michelle Obama was featured on numerous magazine covers in 2008 as the public grew accustomed to the idea of having an African-American first lady.
2008 – Mrs. O appears on The View & causes dress to sell out: In the most famous attempt to soften the future first lady’s image, Obama appeared on this coffee klatch show in an off-the-rack dress that quickly flew off the shelves in response.
2008 – Michelle sparks debate with victory dress: Her selection of this bold Narciso Rodriguez number for her husband’s speech upon winning the election set the fashion world atwitter — but secured Michelle’s role as a trendsetter who could generate buzz.
2008 – The big win: The excitement in the air is evident as folks in the street cheer then-President-Elect Obama and a very stylish Michelle having dinner in Chicago after he won the presidency.
2009 – The Inauguration: Michelle Obama surprised the world in this Isabel Toledo ensemble, which was a departure from the demure suits usually worn by first ladies.
2009 – Making fashion history as president makes history: Michelle ushered in a new era of fashion when she chose an unknown Asian-American designer’s gown for the inaugural balls. Jason Wu would be the first of a diverse selection of creators Obama would support in an effort to boost the fashion industry.
2009 – First days in the White House: First Lady Michelle Obama had a smooth transition into her new role, although it would take a few months for her to announce the issues that would come to be her focus.
2009 – The arms come out: First Lady Michelle Obama made quite a splash with her official portrait, which featured those arms — a cause of much admiration and jealousy.
2009 – First Lady covers Essence: Although not her first over of this ubiquitous black women’s tome, this commemorative issue celebrates Michelle’s achievement of becoming the first black first lady of the United States.
2009 – First lady is the second to cover Vogue: When the first lady graced the March cover of this fashion bible, she made history yet again as the only other first lady to do so aside from Hillary Clinton.
2009 – Breaking ground for the garden: Michelle Obama planted a garden on the White House grounds with 23 area fifth graders to promote healthy eating, and would make efforts to end childhood obesity one of her main agenda items in 2010.
2009 – Meeting the Queen of England: Michelle received quite a few critiques for touching the queen of England on her first visit to the UK as first lady. Her supporters saw this as evidence of her warm spirit.
2009 – First lady takes Europe: During Michelle Obama’s first European tour as first lady she created quite an impression with her sartorial style and stately demeanor.
2010 – Recognized by Time magazine: The first lady was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world for her healthy eating initiatives.
2010 – Michelle gets waxed: In perhaps the most meaningful type of pop culture acknowledgement, First Lady Michelle Obama was made into a wax figure for the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum, along with her famous hubby.
2010 – The launch of Let’s Move: The first lady launched her Let’s Move campaign to end the plague of childhood obesity within one generation through encouraging youth to eat well and enjoy exercising.
2010 – Michelle Obama creates $3 billion for fashion industry: A study conducted by the NYU Stern school of business announced findings showing that, by her style choices alone, First Lady Michelle Obama generated billions of dollars in sales and stock price increases for the fashion industry between 2008-9. Here she wears a stunning gown to a 2010 state dinner.
2010 – First lady hosts Halloween at White House: In addition to Halloween, during Michelle Obama’s watch the number of events for the public has increased exponentially compared to previous administrations.
2011 – Supporting military families: In early 2011, the first lady announced her intention to provide a high level of support to military families as her second issue of focus for her term.
2011 – Michelle makes people see red: When the first lady wore this gown from the British design house Alexander McQueen, she faced critics’ ire at the fact that she did not wear an American designer — which she does for a majority of her appearances.
2011 – Walmart joins first lady for better nutrition: In a major coup, First Lady Michelle Obama gained Walmart as a partner in her efforts to get major food retailers to lower the sodium, calories and other potentially harmful ingredients in products that contribute to our obesity epidemic.
2011 – Perfecting her UK visit: First Lady Michelle Obama turned Prince Phillip’s head on her 2011 visit to the British Royal family with her perfect protocol and an even more bewitching wardrobe.
2011 – Keeping things normal: Through it all, First Lady Michelle Obama has worked to keep a balance between her family life and public initiatives in an effort to keep her daughters happy and healthy while living in a fishbowl.
2011 – Taking toys to tots: In just one of dozens of public acts of service, here First Lady Michelle Obama helps deliver hundreds of toys for the Marines’ annual Christmas drive, Toys for Tots. As usual, Michelle Obama leads by example.
2011 – Michelle Obama does the dougie: One of the nation’s favorite moments in her Let’s Move campaign was when the first lady did this popular hip-hop move for DC-area kids.
2012 — Returning to the White House: After a long, bruising campaign in which she played a vital role as a surrogate for her husband, first lady Michelle Obama and her family will be returning to the White House for four more years. We wish her a happy 49th birthday, and many more years of happiness through helping others.
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First lady Michelle Obama’s birthday is today, an important milestone in anyone’s life, but certainly a major one for a woman who has come into her prime in the public eye.
As a seasoned public administrator before ascending to the White House, Michelle Obama honed her skills as a servant who was always seeking to make her community better while still in Chicago.
After becoming first lady at 44, she has taken that previously perfected role of service to even greater heights.
Using the power of her position to teach children to eat better and helping military families who are struggling are just two of first lady Michelle Obama’s many acts of caring. Over just a few years in the national arena, we have seen the first lady grow into an even stronger leader, not letting the glare of the spotlight or the voices of her opponents stop her from living her best life while uplifting those in need.
And to top it off, Michelle Obama has done it all with a personal style that has inspired admirers and boosted the American fashion industry — by billions.
Michelle Obama’s birthday is the perfect time to remember how far she has come and how much she has accomplished as the nation’s first African-American first lady.
Her biography is so inspiring, we invite you to explore the slideshow timeline below as the perfect way to celebrate the first lady’s 49th birthday.