News

    Future US First Lady Seeks to be Role Model

    Multimedia

    On January 20, Michelle Obama will become the nation's first African-American first lady.  As VOA's Kent Klein tells us, it will be the latest in a series of barriers she has broken.

    Michelle Obama, 44, her husband Barack and their daughters Malia and Sasha, are about to move into the most prestigious home in America: The White House.  But it is not the first time Mrs. Obama has been a pioneer.

    When she was a child in Chicago, her family moved into what had been an all-white neighborhood.

    Liza Mundy, who has written a biography of the incoming first lady, says they were not welcome.

    "So one of her first experiences as a young girl would have been experiencing greater economic opportunity for her own family, a nicer neighborhood, nicer home, but also witnessing the fact that white families were moving away from hers, even as they were moving up in the world," Mundy said.

    Later, Michelle Obama was among the first African-American students to attend prestigious Princeton University, despite resistance from some students and alumni.  From there, she went on to Harvard University Law School and a career at a top Chicago law firm, where she met her future husband.

    The wife of the soon-to-be first African-American U.S. president is very conscious of her status as a role model and how her family is perceived.

    "What a symbol that it will show to so many young boys and girls out there, particularly kids of color, who have never seen themselves in a major way," Mrs. Obama said.

    Biographer Liza Mundy says the Obama family's move to the White House will help redefine the image of African-Americans.

    "Just to see such a lovely family in the White House, I think, in terms of Americans' mindsets and the images and stereotypes that people have of African-Americans, seeing them, I think, will expand everyone's sense of possibility and, hopefully, erase stereotypes," Mundy said.

    During the campaign, however, Michelle Obama occasionally was the target of critics.  Some questioned her patriotism after she made this comment about her husband's success.

    "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country," she said.

    After some in the media criticized the comment, her husband Barack Obama issued a warning.

    "If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful.  These folks should lay off my wife," he said.

    Michelle Obama is an advocate for working families, especially military families, and might make that her cause as first lady.  Mrs. Obama might also campaign for more national service on behalf of young people.

    Close friend Angela Acree says Michelle Obama's true passion is raising her daughters.

    "I think she defines herself by what is most important to her," she said.  "And I think at this point in her life, it's raising the girls so that they are comfortable, safe and happy."

    Mrs. Obama says she wants her daughters to have as normal a childhood as possible.

    "Part of it is keeping their worlds very much their own," she said.

    Biographer Liza Mundy says the incoming first lady works hard to keep her children first.

    "She's at every soccer game; she's at every ballet lesson, every ballet performance," Mundy noted.  "He [Barack Obama] is at every ballet performance, because she requires it.  So she is a very committed parent."

    Even though she is a trailblazer, Michelle Obama seems to relish her most traditional roles: those of wife and mother.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora