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kottke.org posts about Michelle Obama

Becoming, an upcoming memoir by Michelle Obama

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 25, 2018

Becoming Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is coming out with a memoir this fall. It’s called Becoming, it’s out on November 13, 2018, and you can preorder it here.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her — from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it — in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations-and whose story inspires us to do the same.

The image below is Amy Sherald’s portrait of the former First Lady and would make an amazing book cover, no?

Obama Portraits

Update: The actual cover has been released (pictured at the top of this post), and I hereby respectfully amend my former statement. Sherald’s portrait would still make a good book cover, but in this case simpler is better. The photo perfectly captures the personality & style of the former First Lady, and the text treatment is deceptively clever. You can read the title as “Becoming” or “Becoming Michelle Obama”, which is cool but also plays off the tension that designers have to deal with in deciding whether to emphasize the title or the author on the cover. (For instance, with an author like Stephen King, you emphasize the author’s name while with a sensational title and less well known author, you highlight the title.) In this case, the best decision was to balance them equally — same font, same size, same color — and get some wordplay out of it too. Sneaky great cover. (via @lauraolin)

The official painted portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 12, 2018

Obama Portraits

Obama Portraits

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery commissions paintings of each outgoing President and First Lady. The Obamas selected a pair of black artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, to paint their portraits, which were unveiled today. From Colossal:

Wiley’s depiction of President Obama features the artist’s signature style of richly-hued background patterns setting a vibrant symbolic environment for the portrait’s subject. President Obama is surrounded by a carefully selected variety of foliage: jasmine, which represents Hawaii; African blue lilies for his father’s Kenyan heritage; and Chicago’s official flower, the chrysanthemum. For Mrs. Obama’s portrait, Sherald engaged her distinctive combination of depicting skin tone in grayscale, offset by the sharply rendered full-color fabric of Mrs. Obama’s floor-length dress.

Even a cursory glance at other Presidential portraits shows how different the Obamas’ portraits are.

106-year-old Virginia McLaurin dances in the White House

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 22, 2016

What a completely delightful video of 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin visiting the White House and meeting President and Mrs. Obama. This is the Webster’s definition of pure joy.

I don’t know much about McLaurin’s life story — she’s originally from South Carolina, first married at 14 — but when she was 10, the Civil War had ended only 55 years earlier. As a child, she likely knew and talked with people who were former slaves. And now she’s dancing with a black President in the White House. The Great Span continues to work its magic.

Teach me how to dougie

posted by Tim Carmody   May 04, 2011

We’ve waited too long for a First Lady who can pull this off:

It’s not just that Michelle Obama is the first black First Lady. It’s also that she was born in 1964. She’s sixteen-seventeen years younger than Hillary Clinton or Laura Bush. She was in high school when hip-hop broke. Even Barack was already in college. She probably did a few of these dances in a South Shore parking lot when her husband was already thinking about getting into law school. In Joshua Glenn’s generational scheme, Barack is part of Original Generation X, while Michelle’s firmly in the next cohort, alternately titled Generation PC/the Reconstructionists.

Michelle is the first First Lady of the hip-hop generation. And not only does that explain a few things; it’s incredibly awesome.

PS: Here’s the Beyonce dance-as-teen-fitness video the First Lady and DC junior high kids were trying to imitate. (In the mid-late 80s, learning a few of these moves from my sister, I was not unlike the chubby kid in the white hat.)

Michelle Obama’s family tree

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 07, 2009

The NY Times traced Michelle Obama’s family tree back to Melvinia, a slave girl who lived in rural Georgia.

“[Michelle] is representative of how we have evolved and who we are,” said Edward Ball, a historian who discovered that he had black relatives — the descendants of his white slave-owning ancestors — when he researched his memoir, “Slaves in the Family.”

“We are not separate tribes of Latinos and whites and blacks in America,” Mr. Ball said. “We’ve all mingled, and we have done so for generations.”

I wonder how much of this Obama was aware of before being contacted by the Times for comment (she declined):

The findings — uncovered by Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist, and The New York Times — substantiate what Mrs. Obama has called longstanding family rumors about a white forbear.

1996 interview with the Obamas

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 12, 2009

The New Yorker has a too-short excerpt of an interview with Barack and Michelle Obama done in 1996 as part of a “photography project on couples in America”.

There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism.

Update: Le Monde ran a more extensive excerpt of this same interview in French…ABC News had it translated into English. (thx, marshall & stacy)

What should Michelle Obama wear?

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 10, 2008

Some sketches from various fashion designers of what Michelle Obama should wear for her husband’s inauguration festivities. These are fascinating to look at. (thx, david)