Nothing more perhaps could have moved United States First Lady Michelle Obama to come to Liberia, a tiny West African nation with dysfunctional or hardly existing infrastructure, in her crusade for girls education than her own humble beginning as a colored girl in America raised in a one room brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago.
Born on January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois unto the union of Mrs. and Mr. Robinson, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the second child of Mr. Fraser Robinson and Mrs. Marian Robinson. Her dad, Fraser, a pump operator died of complications from multiple sclerosis in 1990.
She grew up along with her brother Craig under the watch of their mother, Marian, in their South Side Chicago home. The family reportedly lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a brick bungalow in which their living room, converted with a divider down the middle – served as Michelle’s bedroom.
But despite what seemed a hopeless beginning for a young black girl, who was to become the 44th First Lady of the United States later, she stood up and held her head high, not allowing those circumstances or perceived limitations then surrounding her life – racism and a one room apartment with dad, mom and a sibling, to confine her destiny.
With fortitude and dream for a better life than her parents, she attended Chicago public schools and subsequently studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University before moving on for post-graduate studies at Harvard Law School where she earned a law degree in 1988, and joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin. There, Michelle later met Barack Obama, the current President of the United States, who she reportedly mentored before they became wedded couple.
“There’s nothing magical about my background,” she told Vogue in 2007, and remarked to Essence in 2009, “I always felt that my father and my mother were unconditionally rooting for me.” Young girls in Liberia should see Mrs, Obama’s visit here on Monday as a golden opportunity to redirect their focus to positive activities despite the many distractions they see around today, because beyond the current life, lie enormous opportunities that could come their way only if they persevere enough to transcend some invincible boundaries currently posing as impediments such as early marriage, abandoning school for material attractions and prostitution, among others.
In 2015, the Obamas launched Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government-wide initiative to help girls around the world go to school and remain in school. As part of this effort, Mrs. Obama embarks on a three-nation tour on Monday, 27 June beginning with Liberia to address adolescent girls at a school in Margibi County outside Monrovia before moving on to Morocco and Spain to continue with the message.
“I see myself in these girls, I see my daughters in these girls, and I simply cannot walk away from them”, she is quoted as saying. And that’s why Mrs. Obama is coming along with her two daughters – Malia and Sasha Obama and her mother Marian Robinson (who inspired and guided her upbringing) on this campaign to inspire young girls in Liberia to persevere and pursue their dreams with her own life or beginning serving as a role model.
We therefore urge all Liberians – not only girls, but boys, men and women to seize this visit by the U.S. First Lady as a great opportunity to get inspired in order to unshackle ourselves from the illusion that someone from somewhere would deliver our destiny into our hands. This would never happen because it has never happened before in any part of the world. Great men and women that we read and hear about today, had their own challenges, but they never allowed those challenges – be it physical, material or financial limitations to confine them or block their vision for a better tomorrow.