From Michelle (Robinson) Obama’s childhood in the South Shore community through Barack Obama’s years of teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, and their historic 2008 election night celebration in Grant Park, The Barack Obama Foundation story starts in Chicago.
Mrs. Obama, then Michelle Robinson, grew up in a two-story house on Euclid Avenue in Chicago’s South Shore community, and attended elementary school down the street. Her father, Fraser, was a city pump operator and a Democratic precinct captain. Her mother, Marian, was a secretary at the Spiegel catalog, who later stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother, Craig.
The years (1985-1988) President Obama spent working as a community organizer on the South Side were “the best education I ever had,” he recalls. As the executive director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP) in the Roseland neighborhood, Obama helped set up a job training program, a college-prep tutoring program, and a tenants’ rights organization in the Altgeld Gardens housing projects.
In 1989, President Obama took a summer internship at a top Chicago law firm, Sidley & Austin, where a young associate named Michelle Robinson was assigned to be his adviser and show him around. He remembers, "I asked her out. She refused. I kept asking. She kept refusing. Finally, I offered to quit my job, and at last she relented."
Barack Obama taught on the University of Chicago Law School faculty for 12 years until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Michelle Obama provided leadership in several senior administrative roles at the University and its medical center.
In October 3, 1992 Barack and Michelle Obama celebrated their wedding day at the South Shore Cultural Center. Of President Obama's vows on that day, Mrs. Obama remembers: "Barack didn't pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise he delivered."
1992 was an election year, and Barack Obama became the director of Illinois Project Vote!, an organization focused on registering minority voters. That year, a huge turnout among African Americans forever altered Chicago’s electoral landscape, and a 31-year-old lawyer became a rising political star.
The State of Illinois elected Barack Obama to the Illinois State Senate in November 1996. He became a leading legislator on a wide range of issues, passing nearly 300 bills aimed at helping children, the elderly, labor unions, and the poor.
Senator Barack Obama, stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois on February 10, 2007 and declared his candidacy for President of the United States. Next to him on that day were his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sasha and Malia. He told listeners that day, “… this campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us — it must be about what we can do together.“
On November 4, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave a victory speech to remember at Grant Park before an estimated crowd of 240,000.