Fifty years after the incident, Marian Lois Robinson, mother of First Lady Michelle Obama tells the story of how she realized her daughter was no average child.
Born Marian Shields in Chicago in 1937, the fourth of seven children—five girls, followed by two boys—born to Purnell Nathaniel Shields, a house painter, and his wife Rebecca Jumper, a licensed practical nurse, according to Steve Shields, her youngest sibling. Her ancestors had moved from Georgia to Chicago in the early 20th century during the Great Migration.
As a girl, Marian attended public schools. She married Fraser Robinson on October 27, 1960 in Chicago.
Robinson formerly worked as a secretary for mail-order retailer Spiegel and at a bank. Both she and her husband had extended families in Chicago, whom they saw frequently at holidays and other times.
While Michelle and Barack Obama campaigned in 2008, Robinson tended her granddaughters. Early in January 2009, it was reported that Robinson would move into the White House with the rest of the First Family in order to provide further transition support for her granddaughters. She is the first live-in grandmother there since Elivera M. Doud, the mother of Mamie Eisenhower, during the Eisenhower administration. Some media outlets have dubbed Robinson the “First Granny.”
Until now the ‘First Granny’ has avoided media attention. During a recent interview with The Washington Star-News Robinson told of the heartbreaking incident that told of things to come:
“On a warm summer day I boarded a bus with my baby Michelle. The bus driver says to me: “Ugh, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen!” It was then I walked down to the rear of the bus and sat down, fuming with anger. I told the a man next to me: ‘The driver just insulted me!’ The man said: ‘You go up there and tell him off. Go on, I’ll hold your monkey for you.'”
While this story is a part of our Sunday Funny series it is important to note that Michelle Obama did have a reporter fired for comparing her to an ape in march of this year. Michelle Obama Gets Reporter Fired for Comparing Her to an Ape