A Love Story : The Obama’s

Michelle and Barack | Courtesy of The North Star Group

It all began in 1989, when Michelle Robinson was an associate at Sidley & Austin–the sixth-largest corporate law firm based in the United States. Michelle had just completed her first year in the firm as an intern when the buzz started. The word around the office was that there was a promising first-year law student who was—at the time—enrolled at Harvard, who would be joining the firm.1 Even though the office was buzzing with this hot news, Michelle kept in mind that first-year law students hardly ever get this type of opportunity, considering the size and degree of the firm. So she assumed he was some sort of super geeky nerd. She also assumed, because of their similarities—such as the law school they attended, and their alike characteristic of being a minority—that they would be paired to work together, with Michelle as his adviser.2

Michelle Obama standing in the
courtyard at Princeton University | Courtesy
of The Princeton Weekly Bulletin

When Michelle first heard about Barack, she said she “probably did what a lot of people do when they hear about Barack Obama.”3 She explained that she had been taken back by the name, unique in its entirety, and she wondered where he was from. As she read more into his biography, she learned a lot about him, including the fact that he grew up in Hawaii, and that he was biracial.

Barack was in fact placed under her wing a few days later, and Michelle took him out to lunch on his first day as a way to establish a professional relationship.4 Little did anybody know that one day they would be much more than just co-workers. Since she had already made the assumption that he was a weird nerd, Michelle was prepared for a geek to walk through the door. However, what happened was her future husband walked through the door, and out to lunch they went.

Even though the lunch outing on Barack’s first day at the firm went extremely well, and she was completely intrigued by his humorous, down-to-earth personality, one couldn’t smell the romance beginning just yet because Michelle was not open to dating anyone at this stage in her life.5

Even though she was positively surprised by the much cuter man that walked in—not the nerd she expected—and completely intrigued by him at their lunch outing, she knew she needed to be focused solely on her career.6 Besides the fact that they were co-workers, she was his adviser, and Michelle took that very seriously. Since she knew it would be wrong to pursue anything romantically in the office, she settled for a mere friendship with Barack.

But Barack wanted more than that. He insisted time after time on her letting him take her out on a date, and she told him, time and time again, no—because it wouldn’t be right. Barack’s persistence eventually led Michelle to agree on going out with him, under the circumstances that it would not be called a date.7

Michelle and Barack’s Wedding Day | Courtesy
of Michelle Obama’s Instagram [@michelleobama]
The “non-date” was an all-day affair. Barack took Michelle to the Art Institute in Chicago, and he wooed her with his knowledge of art. Following the wooing at the museum was a lunch at one of the outdoor cafes at the Institute. “They were playing jazz so that was really sweet,” Michelle says in an interview for CNN.  They then walked up and down Michigan Avenue on a beautiful summer day. They concluded the “non-date” with a movie by Spike Lee titled Do the Right Thing and a drink on the 99th floor of the John Hancock building overlooking a breathtaking view of the city.8

After the negotiated “non-date” that anyone else in the world would consider a date—including them at the end of it—Michelle was completely head over heels for this man. And well, the rest is history—literally.9

  1. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exxrkOxnGjw.
  2. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exxrkOxnGjw.
  3. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exxrkOxnGjw.
  4. “Michelle Obama,” Biography.com, November 08, 2017. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.biography.com/people/michelle-obama-307592.
  5. Liza Mundy, “When Michelle Met Barack,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2008. Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/10/03/ST2008100302144.html.
  6. Liza Mundy, “When Michelle Met Barack,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2008. Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/10/03/ST2008100302144.html.
  7. Peter B. Slevin, Michelle Obama (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), 126.
  8. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exxrkOxnGjw.
  9. Liza Mundy, “When Michelle Met Barack,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2008. Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/10/03/ST2008100302144.html.

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This Post Has 85 Comments

  1. Stephanie Cerda

    Their story is very sweet. I had never heard about her actually being his mentor. She’s so accomplished on her own, I would love to hear more about her life and how she got to where she did. Hearing their story now, after his presidency makes them seem more familiar. They really are just people. I’ve heard about their love story before, and seen all the pictures. I remember hearing about the little monument that they have where they first kissed. On a curb after eating Baskin Robbins ice cream, I believe.

  2. Avatar

    I only know about the Obama’s while they were in the White House so it was interesting for me to read about how the two got together. I think that it is funny how Tumlinson wrote that Michelle was prepared for a geek to walk through the doors of the firm but her future husband walked through the doors. Michelle had no idea that she would have a future with Barack but he seemed to have known this whole time.

  3. Avatar

    I would have never thought that Michelle was actually Barack Obama’s mentor, and she graciously helped him to gain a better perspective of what she was focusing in for her future, it is also amusing that he insisted on her that she should give him a chance and to go on one date. (which would flourish into something more later on). I also did not know that Michelle Obama was one of the few law students who got to be the only intern at this very famous law firm.

  4. Avatar

    I genuinely had no idea about the cute love story between our former president and the former first lady. It’s so cute how they were both at the “sixth largest corporal law firm based in the U.S. What are the odds of them meeting, them being paired up together, and them falling in love with each other? Their story is one of those stories that gives people hope about love.

  5. Avatar

    Having grown up during Obama in office, I knew of his political life never much about his personal life. This article does a great job at mapping out the relationship Michelle and Barack had before even officially dating. It was not only a cute article about love playing out in their favor, but it was also informative on their upbringings. Barack and Michelle both wanted to make a higher future for themselves and evidently met their soulmate along the way. I’m glad Ashley Tumlinson brought light to the Obama’s lives before presidency.

  6. Avatar

    This such a cute and sweet article that I wish would have won an award for “cutest article.” I love the Obamas and their love story because they are such a strong and genuine couple. Michelle Obama was a good, educated first lady that really did her part with the position of power she was in, unlike the current first lady who has yet to do anything.

  7. Avatar

    The Obamas have always been an inspiring couple to me, and I can’t believe I am only reading their history right now. It is crazy to think how life can turn out for some people, and how this couple ended up in the White House! Regardless of their beliefs and politics, they are definitely people everyone should look up to and be inspired by.

  8. Avatar

    The author of this article chose to make Michelle the protagonist in this story and I completely agree with this decision. As the audience, we get to see the Former president of the United States in an entirely new light. Michelle appears extremely relatable when she discloses how she “assumed he was some sort of super geeky nerd,” and how captivated she was the uniqueness of his name. This was a very good article.

  9. Avatar

    This was such a cute love story! I never had thought about how the obamas might had ended up together. This article gives you an idea of each of their personalities and how they were growing up. I think it is so special the bond they have created throughout the years and I am sure it helped them a lot through the presidency. Overall this article is very well written and is a must read!!!

  10. Avatar

    This is a very interesting article. I have read a lot on Obama, however, I have never read anything on him before becoming president. I think the love story between the two is very sweet. Especially because at the firm, they were not allowed to date and Michelle kept telling Barack “no”. It is just to show that one never knows what track life will take us. Little did they know that they would marry and become president and first lady of the United States. Overall, great topic selection and very well written. Good work.

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