Reporting from Denver
From the Obama camp:
TONIGHT: Michelle Obama’s Prime-Time Speech to Detail the Obama
Family’s Life, Values and Commitment to Service
To kick off the night, Obama Campaign to Unveil Biographical Film
“South Side Girl”
Denver, CO Ã¢â‚¬“ Michelle Obama will deliver the first headline prime-time
speech of the Democratic National Convention this evening. Michelle Obama
will talk about her husband, Democratic nominee Barack Obama, the values that
have driven him as a father, husband and public servant, and why she believes
he will be an extraordinary president. As the person who knows him best, there’s
no one who can do a better job introducing Barack Obama to the country.
In her speech, Michelle will give the country a personal view of Barack Obama
Ã¢â‚¬“ her husband, and Sasha and Malia’s Dad. She will talk about
their life together, and building a family grounded in faith and values. The
more America learns about this family, the more they’re going to want
to send them to the White House.
Michelle will also talk about her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago.
Her story is a great American story: modest means but big dreamsÃ¢â‚¬”and
encouragement from loving parents that she and her brother could accomplish
whatever they put their minds to if they worked hard. Like Barack, Michelle
was also taught to give back to the community and the country that has given
her so much. Now, as a working mother of two young girls, Michelle is continuing
to give back to the community and country she loves.
Like many moms, she’s learned to juggle the responsibilities of work
and family. She knows what it’s like for millions of women who face
the same challenges every day. She’s made a career of bringing people
together and finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems in her community
and that’s exactly what she’ll do as First Lady.
Over the last 19 months, Mrs. Obama has demonstrated a unique ability to
connect with people across the country on the campaign trail and share in
their American experience. People have come away from her campaign events
knowing that they will have a first lady who truly understands their challenges
and is committed to helping women and families.
South Side Girl will preview Michelle Obama’s speech. Narrated by her
mother, Marian Robinson, the film describes Mrs. Obama’s family background,
highlighting her upbringing and the values that have shaped her as a mother,
wife, daughter, sister, mentor and dedicated community service advocate. Craig
Robinson will then introduce Michelle, sharing his personal perspective on
his little sister, their upbringing and their family.
Below is some brief background on those appearing in South Side Girl the
Marian Robinson goes by many titles. Malia and Sasha Obama call her Grandma.
Barack and Michelle Obama call her Mom. She’s been called “the
linchpin of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign”Ã¢â‚¬”because
when Barack and Michelle are on the campaign trail, she takes care of the
most important people in their lives.
“I’m standing here, breathing in and out with any level of calm,
because my mother is home with my girls,” Michelle frequently says when
she’s on the road. “There’s no one like Grandma.”
Marian Shields was born in Chicago in July 1937. She grew up in Woodlawn
on the South Side, and married her husband, Fraser Robinson, in 1960. Fraser
worked for the Chicago water department, while Marian stayed home and raised
their two children: Craig, who was born in 1962, and Michelle, who came along
two years later.
The family was very close, spending long hours talking around the dinner
table. “We felt like center of our parents’ universe, because
they put us there,” Michelle says.
When Michelle entered high school, Marian went back to work, becoming a secretary
in a bank. She retired last year. She still lives in the home that the Robinson
family shared on the South Side. Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha live just
a few miles away, and Mrs. Robinson and her granddaughters see each other
almost every day. She is also the proud grandmother to Craig’s two children:
Avery, 16, and Leslie, 12.
Craig Robinson has had two lifelong loves: his family and basketball. Growing
up, Craig was a star player for his high school team. His parents and sister
were his biggest fans. “We spent every Saturday on a basketball court
somewhere, watching my brother play,” Michelle says. He went to Princeton,
where he became one of the best basketball players in the history of the university
and the first two-time Ivy League basketball player of the year. Following
two seasons of professional basketball in England, Craig returned to the states
and earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and spent seven years as
a vice president for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.
But Craig never gave up his love for the game. In 1999, while he was a managing
director at the Chicago investment banking firm Loop Capital Markets, he got
a call from one of his coaches from Princeton. Craig’s former coach
was now the coach at Northwestern, and he wanted Craig to work for him. After
some serious thought, Craig decided to leave the world of finance and get
back on the basketball court. Craig spent six seasons as an assistant coach
at Northwestern. Then he spent two seasons as the head coach at Brown. This
spring, he was named the head basketball coach at Oregon State. His basketball
career has come full circle. “Every day, I’m doing something I
love,” he says. Craig will be joined this evening by his wife, Kelly,
and kids Avery, 16, and Leslie, 12.
Jobi Peterson Cates
Jobi Peterson Cates met Michelle Obama in 1993 at Public Allies, a youth
leadership training and Americorps national service program, of which Mrs.
Obama started the Chicago chapter. They worked together for two years, and
have remained friends since. Jobi Peterson Cates went on to become the Vice
President of External Relations at the Heartland Alliance, a service bases
human rights organization in Chicago. She also served as the Executive Director
of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, where she led a restructuring
and organizational development process. Peterson Cates is now the Human Rights
Watch Director for the Chicago & Midwest Region.
Yvonne Davila first met Michelle Obama twenty years ago when they were young
staffers together in the office of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and they have
remained incredibly close. Now, they juggle the day to day balance of work
and family together, shuttling their daughters of comparable ages to school,
play dates, pizza parties and soccer games. Since the Mayor’s office,
for over 15 years, Ms. Davila has been worked as a public relations executive,
and is currently a partner at D & T Communications, Inc., a firm specializing
in public relations and marketing strategies that include media and community
relations, governmental affairs, policy and crisis management. She is the
mother of two daughters, Elizabeth and Katherine.
Charles Ogletree, a professor and mentor of Michelle Obama’s at Harvard
Law School, is the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and
Vice Dean for the Clinical Programs. Ogletree began his career at Harvard
Law the same year Mrs. Obama arrived as a student.
Travis Rejman met Michelle Obama at Public Allies, an Americorps national
service program and youth leadership training program in the Chicago community,
of which Mrs. Obama was the Founding Director in the early 1990s. Mr. Rejman
has since become the founding Executive Director of the Goldin Institute,
a global forum dedicated to supporting grassroots partnerships for global
change in the areas of poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability,
and reconciliation that began in 2002. Prior to creating the Goldin Institute,
Travis served as Director for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s
Religions, leading the development of the program for the 2004 (Barcelona)
and 1999 (Cape Town) Parliaments of the World’s Religions. Prior to working
in the interreligious field, Travis worked in the environmental movement,
focusing on coalition building, grassroots education and civic engagement.