Marian Shields Robinson

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Marian Shields Robinson
First Family 2013 Inauguration Day portrait Miarian.jpg
Marian Shields Robinson in 2013
Marian Lois Shields

(1937-07-29) July 29, 1937 (age 83)
Known forMother of Michelle Obama
Fraser C. Robinson III
(m. 1960; died 1991)
ChildrenCraig Robinson
Michelle Obama
RelativesBarack Obama (son-in-law)

Marian Lois Robinson (née Shields; born July 29, 1937) is the mother of Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, and Craig Robinson, a basketball executive, and the mother-in-law of former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Ancestry and early life[edit]

Marian Shields was born in Chicago in 1937, the fourth of seven children—five girls, followed by two boys—born to Purnell Nathaniel Shields, a house painter and carpenter[1], and his wife Rebecca Jumper, a licensed practical nurse.[2][failed verification] Both parents had multi-racial ancestry.[3] Her mother's grandfather, Dolphus T. Shields (c. 1860–1950), was the direct descendant of slavery, with his mother enslaved and his white father the heir of the slavemaster; [3] he had moved from rural Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama, where he established his own carpentry and tool sharpening business.[4] His descendants would eventually move to Chicago during the Great Migration.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Shields married Fraser Robinson III on October 27, 1960 in Chicago.[5] They had two children together, Craig Malcolm and Michelle LaVaughn, named after Fraser's mother. She worked as a secretary for mail-order retailer Spiegel, the University of Chicago, and a bank.[2] In the late 60's, Shields lived with her family in a rented second floor apartment of a brick bungalow the South Side of Chicago that belonged to her aunt Robbie and her husband Terry. This is where she raised her two children, Michelle and Craig, and continued to live till she eventually moved to the White House with the Obamas. Michelle Obama, in her book Becoming, describes her mother's strong attachment to her Chicago home and her commitment to raising her children as a stay at home mother. Shields resumed work as an executive assistant at a bank when her daughter Michelle started high school.[1]

Relationship with Michelle Obama[edit]

Obama describes her mother as forthright and honest, and speaks of her implacability and her silent support for Obama throughout her childhood and beyond.[1] Shields used to take her daughter Michelle to the library long before she started school and used to sit beside her as she learned to read and write. Usually the kind of mother who expected her children to settle their own disputes, Shields was quick to see real distress and stepped in to help when needed. For example, when Michelle was in second grade and was distressed because of being devalued by a teacher, Shields advocated for her and was instrumental in getting her daughter better learning opportunities at school. Shields encouraged her children to communicate with her about all subjects by being available when needed and giving practical advice. She entertained Michelle's school friends when they visited and enabled her to make her own choices in important matters. [1]

Obama campaign and life in the White House[edit]

While Michelle and Barack Obama campaigned for his candidacy as president in 2008, Robinson helped them by providing support to her granddaughters, Malia and Sasha Obama. During Barack Obama's presidency, Robinson was living in the White House in support of the First Family.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d Obama, Michelle, 1964- (2019), Becoming, CNIB, ISBN 978-0-221-02673-7, OCLC 1088930870, retrieved 2020-07-11CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Skiba, Katherine (March 8, 2010). "First grandma keeps low profile". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 13, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Swarns, Rachel L. (June 16, 2012). "Meet Your Cousin, the First Lady: A Family Story, Long Hidden". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Swarns, Rachel L.; Kantor, Jodi (October 7, 2009). "In First Lady's Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  5. ^ LoBello, Lia (July 2, 2008). "First Families: Radar introduces you to the next president's relatives". Radar. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 28, 2009.
  6. ^ Swarns, Rachel L. "Obama's Mother-in-Law to Move Into the White House". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  7. ^ Palmer, Ewan. "Barack Obama Praises Michelle's Mom In Heartfelt Facebook Post: 'She's Been There For Us Every Day'". Newsweek. Retrieved 20 January 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Swarns, Rachel L. (2012). American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-220465-3.

External links[edit]