Book Becoming - Michelle Obama

Becoming - Michelle Obama

Get inspired by Michelle Obama’s deep and mesmerizing reflection from the battles she faced being a black woman in today’s society.

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Have you ever faced challenges? Have you ever been in a situation or a place where people said you didn’t belong to? So it was with Michelle Obama.

In this work she invites readers to emerge in her reality, that can be close to many of us, and follow the story of how she became the first most influential first lady in the US history.

Reading this summary of the book “Becoming”, you will get connected with this amazing story and see many points of her life.

Do you want to know more? Keep reading and get inspired by this work of deep reflection from this exceptional woman, who will tell you how not to give up from things, facing life with fierce and determination!

The book “Becoming”

“Becoming” is an autobiography of Michelle Obama, published in 2018 by Penguin Random House Editorial Group Portugal.

The book won the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Best Biography.

The work has 24 chapters divided into three parts: The Story Begins (where the author goes into the facts and aspects of her life as a single woman); Our Story (details her relationship with Barack Obama); and A Bigger Story (where we get to see her commitment to her country as first lady).

Her memoirs, detailed in this book, are intended to reveal how her personal ascension process, challenges, and emotions were part of her career. So, her narrative inspires us to fight for our ambitions and beliefs.

Who is Michelle Obama?

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, where she acquired the knowledge for being a lawyer. She also became a renowned writer, her autobiography is her greatest success up to this date.

Michelle is the 44th First Lady of the United States being married to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. She has been the first Afro-descendant to hold this position.

Her presence made a great success in the presidential campaigns and she became a fashion icon and a role model for some women.

Why should I read “Becoming”?

Society tends to marginalize some groups as: women, black people, LGBTQIA+’s, among others. Thus, this book is indicated for all people who belong to these groups and suffer through daily challenges in which their abilities are placed in doubt by preconceptions.

It’s also recommended as a research source for people who study politics and social and public relations, especially Americans.

What can I learn from “Becoming”?

  • US segregation and integration movements have had impact on the American’s lives;
  • US policy is marked by a polarized division that excludes and marginalizes some minorities;
  • Everything that happened in Michelle’s life and all she went through were important and valuable in shaping her story;
  • Persisting and trying again is the key to succeed;
  • Studying the society we live in shows where we can improve and create a better world;
  • Faith in your ideals gives you the strength to fight, resist, and persist.
  • Voting and being politically active is essential to the life of every citizen in the author’s view.

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[Book Summary] Becoming - Michelle Obama

The Story Begins

Michelle begins the book “Becoming” introducing her family to give a clear conception of where they came from, what values ​​formed their basis and how important this is in her life.

Michelle Obama came from a humble family, with values ​​that are close to the reality of many of us.

She grew up in the South side of Chicago, where the dilemma of the American race issue was also part of people’s lives.

In her first kindergarten experience, she already understood herself as a disciplined girl who took her studies very seriously. The discipline and authority were part of her childhood.

Life in the outskirts neighborhoods, like the one she lived with her family, required precautions, controls, and hard rules. It was common for her family to perform simulations at home in the case of a real fire, which her brother Craig put a lot of effort into.

Her father was a district delegate to the Democratic Party and she went with him to visit voters from a young age. Although not finding it the most fun activity of her childhood, Michelle Obama identifies it as something important for her social development.

Overcoming the Segregation

Her relationships and postures with family members were very mature. And she had a clear sense that her background came from hard work, overcoming poverty and slavery.

Michelle recounts the reality that was experienced by countless black families in the US and how the government had scarce assistance programs.

The work “Becoming” tells that in 1970, the United States of America went through integration services to try to block the process of segregation in American society.

This process has led to an uphill fight from schools located in ghetto-prone neighborhoods to schools in “quieter” neighborhoods.

“Ghetto” has become an extremely dreaded word, and some schools have set up “gifted and talented” student rooms in an attempt to make a positive impact on the children who were still studying there.

In high school, Michelle went to study away from home, which took about 3 hours by bus (round trip), mainly because of the quality of this school. She always wondered if she was good enough to be at this school.

When thinking about academic life, she wanted to study at Princeton University, but in an interview for this university, she was badly treated by the interviewer who suggested she should enroll in an “easier” university.

After that, she persisted, wanting to show herself what she was capable of, and to her satisfaction, she got what she wanted.

In 1980, Princeton was mostly white and male. Her roommates were white, and after a while, she recognized that the mother of one of them asked for a change of room for her daughter, for reasons she thinks are essentially racial.

In the course of her graduation, Michelle got a part-time job. In addition, she began taking care of children of black employees from the university.

During her graduation in Sociology she worked hard to always get in touch with her family while pursuing her studies.

She shows here how these experiences and exchanges with her family have been essential, as well as the relationship with black students from other realities, to make her rethink some questions about race.

Michelle always found herself very ambitious. After she graduated from Princeton, she entered Law School at Harvard, even though she found the academic world massacring.

She greatly admired her accomplishments, and was already working after her graduation.

Finding love

It was in the office, from her first job, where she met with Barack Obama as her mentor. She mentions that at first, she was not sentimentally or physically interested in him, but points out that Barack was extremely serious and dedicated, characteristics that she appreciates.

Gradually Michelle fell in love with Barack as a professional and as a man. Then, after they had their first kiss, she decided it was time to stop thinking and start living.

Our Story

A big feeling for Barack began to rise in her heart, as well as desire, gratitude, satisfaction, and admiration. But because of her concerns about what others would think, she worried about keeping decorum at work.

After a while, Barack began to act as an organizer with the urban communities. For him the main goal was to fight the tiredness of the people and the skepticism caused by the disappointments.

For the author, he had a great sense of purpose, becoming the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, a subject announced by the New York Times.

Going through a mix of good and bad episodes in her life, Michelle began to feel unhappy and dissatisfied with being a lawyer, she wanted something more tied to her ideals. When he discussed this with his mother, she only replied:

“Make the money, worry about being happy later.”

The author also tells the moving episode of her father’s death, at the age of 55. He had been very reluctant to go to the doctor since he had started to suffer from multiple sclerosis, and when he did, it was already too late.

She puts into the pages of her autobiography all her feelings for her father and all the thoughts she had on her last visit to the hospital, which were of love, care and gratitude.

After mourning, which was an important part in the life of the author and her family, a new job opportunity arose: to work at the city hall, where she would learn more about multiple realities. According to Michelle, that was “the people’s place”, she would be able to dedicate herself more to her ideals as she would like to, but the salary would be much lower.

In this job, she strived to fight against a policy that isolated and excluded Afro-Americans.

Political Life 

Meanwhile, Barack began working on the Project VOTE!, in which he registered the votes of voters in states where there was a low turnout from marginalized groups during elections. Michelle points out Barack’s strong belief that the vote had power.

After some difficulties and financial clashes, she began a new job at an NGO where she could actually grow and act.

Barack ran for State Senator in Illinois but continued to advocate and teach.

A while later, after they were married, Michelle and Barack had their first daughter.

The author began to work in a new role in the hospital at the University of Chicago. And in 2001, when they had their second daughter, motherhood put her in a new social cycle.

She was already used to Barack’s absence, especially at dinner, while he ran and after he won the post of Federal Senator. This victory would include a move to Washington D.C.

Michelle continued to give importance to her own career and was soon promoted to vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Obama became the only black Senator in the Federal Senate, and the speculation about a possible presidential nomination already surrounded them. She admited that in the beginning, Barack wanted to run for president and she didn’t. She felt against the world in this position.

Eventually, she ended up supporting her husband, because she thought her selfishness wasn’t right and believed faithfully that he would be a good president, even though she didn’t really believe in his victory.

In the announcement of the candidacy, Michelle was bothered by the feeling she always had of maybe not being enough for that.

Seeing the crowd that had gathered to hear Barack, on an extremely cold day, in the announcement, she understood the meaning, responsibility and commitment they were making there. Then, she wanted more than anything to make it worth it.

In the campaigns, she was committed to tell everyone her true story. With that, she gained admiration and got personally connected to some people.

The issue of race was always present. Some people even said, during the campaigns, that black people can have different interests. They even accused them of a terrorist threat.

When polling day finally came, Michelle was very emotional, and felt this moment as a mini-presidential race vacation of almost 21 months of campaigning.

She believed, above all, in the meaning that Barack’s victory had in US history.

Michelle underscores their partnership at all times and emotionally describes the victory, citing how important the collective work and the grandeur of the moment was.

A Bigger Story

In politics, the role of the first lady is undefined. Each of those who went through this position accomplished something different, but she had a differentiator. She was the first black woman to take the position. And since there were no requirements for the position of first lady, then she had a certain freedom in choosing her projects.

Michelle, then, describes details of what it was like to live in the White House, being an attractive and rewarding life, but tiring and exhausting. Living in the White House was expensive and required massive control of finances in her view.

One of Michelle’s biggest accomplishments was the Let’s Move project, attempting to address the issue of improving the diet, especially of American children, by tackling childhood obesity.

She also came to better understand some feelings, such as resilience when engaging with complex contexts. Michelle and Barack were concerned with supporting and promoting artists within the White House.

Michelle lists the results achieved by Barack's administration and puts this as a fundamental mark.

In this context, the recovery from the 2008 crisis was not yet complete, but the general public opinion was very supportive of Barack. Grassroots energy was essential to Barack’s vision of democracy.

The nervousness of the reelection was higher, but they were together and strong to complete another 4 years.

For her, the second term was less difficult, but many firearm attacks put American policy in question.

She is extremely grateful for the process and sees countless progress, but understands that this does not change the world as it is.

She is proud of her whole family, and tells how at the end of the term, they supported Hillary Clinton and abhorred Donald Trump’s sexist and misogynistic speeches.

She wishes more people had turned out at the polls for the election that elected Trump as president. Finally, she state’s that voting and being politically active is essential to every citizen’s life.

Other Inspiring Autobiographies

In I Am Malala, the activist girl, Malala Yousafzai, tells her amazing story, in that she suffered an assassination attempt, because she was defending the right of girls to attend schools and to have the freedom to play a role in society.

The book Long Walk to Freedom is a book where Nelson Mandela reports his life in detail, his education and his time in prison. He highlights the political advance and the arduous struggle to rebuild the country’s segregated society, earning international recognition.

In Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama tells his story since his inception, his choice of profession, the problems he faced, and how he dealt with racism.

How can I apply the ideas from “Becoming”?

  • Reflect on the world you would like to leave for future generations and take action to make this world come true;
  • Think about whether the place you work or study enables the performance of your, or your friends, talents and skills;
  • Make a list with positive memories from your past, your story matters too, your journey is important;
  • Study about the society you live in, position yourself politically, demanding your rights;
  • When you wake up, give thanks for at least three things you have, think about what you don’t have, and make plans to achieve;
  • Believe in your ideals and fight all barriers as you are with your truth.

Rate the book summary of “Becoming”

Now, tell us, what time in Michelle Obama’s history did you feel most familiar with? Have you been in similar situations? Leave your comments and feedback below, your opinion is also an important story to tell!

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Book Becoming - Michelle Obama