How Did Michelle and Barack Meet? A Love Story

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "A Promised Land" by Barack Obama. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How did Michelle and Barack meet? How long have the Obamas been together?

Michelle and Barack Obama met in Chicago. He was interning at a law firm, and she was an associate. The two quickly became friends and began a relationship.

Read more about how Michelle and Barack met and how they pursued their goals together.

How Did Michelle and Barack Meet? A Connection at Work

So how did Michelle and Barack Obama meet? While he was weighing his options for his future, Barack met a young woman who would change the course of his life. In 1989, he was working a summer internship at a Chicago law firm when he met a young associate named Michelle Robinson.

Barack was immediately drawn to Michelle—her beauty, her quiet self-confidence, and her fierce intelligence. Michelle soon became not just Barack’s lover, but the closest friend he’d ever known—the closest friend he ever would know. 

Although Michelle was no less driven than Barack, her path to success was different. As a Black woman from the South Side of Chicago, she knew that that path was beset by potential pitfalls and roadblocks. Because of her race and her gender, she understood that she would always have to prove to others that she belonged in the room—whether that room was at a high-powered Chicago law firm or, later, the White House.

Still, she was tenacious, able to challenge Barack, but also push him to fulfill his highest potential. For her part, Michelle was attracted to Barack’s idealism and his ability to inspire hope in others. A life with the ambitious Barack meant romance and adventure; a life with Michelle and her family promised Barack the stability and sense of rootedness that he’d so often lacked during his childhood. They made an ideal couple, complementing one another and giving each what the other lacked.

Crucially, she knew Barack, as no one else could—even himself. She recognized that he was incapable of taking the easy way out or taking the path of least resistance. Whenever he was faced with an easy path or a hard one, he would always choose to embrace the struggle. Her insight would prove prescient as they built their lives together.(Shortform note: To learn more about her thoughts and reflections on her life with Barack and her experiences as the nation’s first African-American first lady, read our summary of Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming.)

How Did Michelle and Barack Meet? A Love Story

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Barack Obama's "A Promised Land" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full A Promised Land summary:

  • How Barack Obama went from relative obscurity to the first Black president
  • What principles guided his political leadership style
  • Why Obama retained an unshakable faith in the potential and promise of America

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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