Michelle Obama made history when she stood beside her husband, President Barack Obama, on his Inauguration Day in January. She became the first African-American First Lady.
Since moving into the White House, the self-appointed "Mom in Chief" has done much more than take care of her daughters, Sasha and Malia. In March, Obama planted the first White House Garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s White House Victory Garden during World War II. Obama wants her family, White House staff and guests to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. She also aims to educate Americans on the importance of these healthy foods to combat a national obesity crisis.
To break ground on the new garden, Mrs. Obama invited 26 Washington, D.C., fifth graders to join her at the White House on March 20. These students will continue to take part in tending the garden and will watch it develop and grow.
One of Obama’s goals as First Lady is to break down barriers and help people gain access where they never thought they could. She is inspired by her childhood growing up on the South Side of Chicago near the University of Chicago, where her mother worked as a secretary. Yet Obama never set foot on campus as a child. Obama has said that she wants children, and all Americans, to feel that the White House is open to them.
For Women’s History Month in March, Obama enlisted an accomplished group of 21 celebrities including WNBA star Lisa Leslie and singers Sheryl Crow and Alicia Keys to join her in visiting local schools. She wants children to feel close to the White House and she wants to inspire students to work hard.
Obama attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She worked at a Chicago law firm, where she eventually met Barack Obama. In 1996, she followed in her mother’s footsteps by taking a job at the University of Chicago as associate dean of student services.
For making history as the first African-American First Lady and for inspiring other young Americans to accomplish their own “firsts,” Michelle Obama is a nominee for TFK Person of the Year 2009.