Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s mother, dead at 86

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Former first lady Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, has died, according to a family statement.

“There was and will be only one Marian Robinson,” former President Barack Obama wrote in an X post Friday evening.

“In our sadness, we are lifted up by the extraordinary gift of her life. And we will spend the rest of ours trying to live up to her example.”

The family statement, written by Michelle and Barack Obama; Craig and Kelly Robinson; and Robinson’s grandchildren, Avery, Leslie, Malia, Sasha, Austin and Aaron, praised the 86-year-old’s wisdom and her legacy of hard work.

“Marian Lois Shields Robinson — our mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother — had a way of summing up the truths about life in a word or two, maybe a quick phrase that made everyone around her stop and think,” the family wrote.

Her wisdom came off as almost innate, as something she was born with, but in reality it was hard-earned, fashioned by her deep understanding that the world’s roughest edges could always be sanded down with a little grace.”

Robinson was a regular fixture during Obama’s presidency, moving in with the family after Obama’s 2008 inauguration

“With a healthy nudge, she agreed to move to the White House with Michelle and Barack,” the family wrote. “We needed her. The girls needed her. And she ended up being our rock through it all.”

Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama
Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama attend the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The family said that, alongside spoiling her loving grandchildren, Robinson also strictly enforced the children’s bedtime, and enjoyed watching TV, and eating candy while residing in the White House. 

“Less encumbered by the responsibilities of motherhood, she’d indulge in a little more fun and games while keeping any danger of spoiling her grandchildren safely at bay,” the family wrote.

After her stint in Washington D.C., Robinson returned to her hometown in Chicago, Illinois.

Marian Robinson, the mother of first lady Michelle Obama, waves during the annual Easter egg roll April 25, 2011, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Robinson was born in Chicago in 1937 and grew up on the city’s South Side, where she raised her daughter and son, Craig. 


She was married to Fraser Robinson, who died in 1991 from multiple sclerosis.

The family statement concluded with: “there was and will be only one Marian Robinson.”


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