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Who Are Marian Shields Robinson and Fraser Robinson III?

May 6, 2020
3 min read
Michelle Obama Parents Marian Shields Robinson and Fraser Robinson III

Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, is lauded around the world for never shying away from speaking her mind and for delivering profound words of wisdom, whenever necessary. The 90-minute documentary, ‘Becoming,’ focuses on the life of the formidable woman as she embarks upon a quest to find a balance between her personal and professional life, one that is filled with the media scrutiny, even after leaving the White House.

The docu-film, directed by Nadia Hallgren, documents Obama’s 34-city book tour, where we meet several faces that hold an essential position in Michelle’s life and have, in one way or another, helped her in becoming the person she is today. Michelle credits her parents for blessing her with valuable insights and knowledge, and mostly, for always giving her hope. Let’s learn more about them!

Michelle Obama Mother and Father: Marian Shields Robinson and Fraser Robinson III

Fourth of seven siblings, Marian Sheilds Robinson, was born on July 29, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois to Purnell Nathaniel Shields and Rebecca Jumper of multi-racial ancestry. Marian’s ancestors were descendants of slavery, and her parents were not financially sound and spent most of their lives trying to earn enough to get by.

On October 27, 1960, Marian tied the knot with Fraser Robinson III and together, they have two children – Michelle LaVaughn and Craig Robinson. Fraser Robinson worked as a city pump operator and suffered from multiple sclerosis, which made it difficult for him to get to work every day. He loved his collection of jazz music and would listen to them for hours, relaxing on his favorite recliner in his one-bedroom apartment in Southside Chicago.

Michelle describes her mother, former Spiegel’s secretary, and a bank employee, as a “typical black mother,” who would spank her kids if they didn’t finish their designated chores. Marian was a fulltime homemaker until Michelle joined high school.

In the film, Michelle jokingly reveals that her mother’s favorite child has always been her brother, Craig, who enjoys her envious nature. Marian has always stood by her side, and the film offers glimpses of the mother and daughter’s relationship, throughout the years.

Are Marian Shields Robinson and Fraser Robinson III Alive?

Marian Shields Robinson is alive and well at 82 years of age and spends most of her time with her daughter Michelle and her grandparents Malia Ann and Natasha. She also accompanies her daughter to work events and conferences. When she is not doing that, Marian likes to visit her son Craig to enjoy multiple glasses of wine from Craig’s extraordinary collection.

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After several weeks of physical distancing, it’s so important that we continue to regularly check in with the people we care about—our friends, neighbors, grandparents, and anyone we know who might be sheltering in place on their own right now. A simple text or quick call can go a long way in letting someone know they aren’t in this alone. And the benefit goes both ways. For me, the simple act of reaching out to my loved ones, especially to my Mom, never fails to lift my spirits. If you’re not sure how to start,@ChicagosMayor Lori Lightfoot has been sharing some helpful tips for making well-being calls part of your routine. Little things like scheduling your call for the same time every week and making sure to have conversations about the latest safety guidance can help keep all of us healthy and connected. We're all in this together—and we’ll get through it together too. 💪🏾#StayAtHome

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Unfortunately, Michelle’s father Fraser passed away on March 6, 1991, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, just a year before his daughter would walk down the aisle with her longtime boyfriend, Barack Obama.

Michelle often talks about her father in good spirits, admitting how the void can never be filled, but his memories and teachings always motivate her to keep going, no matter what. She often shares pictures of her father, honoring his memories. Here’s one of them!

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I love this photo of my father because it shows so much of his presence—his strength, his poise, and yes, his style. My dad was pretty cool. He was proud and warm with a smooth baritone voice and ready laugh. He was also quite punctual, as you can see from his wristwatch suntan. But I also love this photo because its imperfections capture a lot about what it’s like for me to think about him today. This snapshot is a reminder that all memories are somewhat incomplete, a photographic representation that my time with him was cut short. And that’s ok—that’s life. And that’s why, today and every day, I’m grateful for all of it: for every imperfect photograph, for every incomplete memory, and for the many wonderful, beautiful years I had to learn and love — and be loved by — my father. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you and I’ll love you forever.

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