September 18th, 2009
09:55 PM ET

Michelle Obama could be secret weapon in health care reform

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/18/michelle.obama.health.reform/art.michelleobama.gi.jpg caption="First lady Michelle Obama listens to remarks during a health care forum at the White House on Friday."]

Ed Hornick

She stood by her husband throughout the contentious 2008 presidential campaign and during heated health care reform debates during his presidency.

Now, as the reform debate is reaching a fever pitch, first lady Michelle Obama is weighing in on the issue by focusing on how health care can affect families.

"What she's doing is putting a personal and human face on the issue ... there's nothing more crucial," said Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn. "Everybody gets sick, and everybody has someone in the family that gets sick."

"I think if you can humanize it and personalize it, it suddenly brings it home to people - especially those who are screaming and yelling about the government taking over," Quinn said.

On Friday, the first lady, a former hospital administrator, spoke about the issue to a crowd at the White House, highlighting her own family's experience with health care.

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September 18th, 2009
06:45 PM ET
July 23rd, 2009
11:11 AM ET

Does Michelle Obama’s new hair remind you of Jackie O?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/23/art.michelle.hair.jpg caption="Michelle Obama's new summer 'do is drawing comparisons to a certain former First Lady's bob. "]

Mark Silva
Salon de Swamp

Now, this may be no pillbox hat.

But it's a bob.

And if the fashion trend-setting "Jackie O" - then "Jackie K" - could get a hat thing going with women in her time with a little haberdashing help from Oleg Cassini, perhaps the fashion-conscious "Michelle O" can get a bob thing going, too.

The first lady made a debut with her newly trimmed and arranged locks at the evening performance of country western singers staged at the White House last night.

The East Room fete, another in a series of the first lady's efforts at bringing arts to the White House, featured Charley Pride, Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss and Union Station seated on little "bar-stool mountains" on a low-stage..


July 17th, 2009
11:52 PM ET

Tracking Michelle Obama's slave roots

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/07/16/michelle.obama.slaveroots/art.slavehome.cnn.jpg caption="This is a former slave house on Friendfield Plantation, where Michelle Obama's family has roots."]
Joe Johns | BIO and Justine Redman

In many places across the South you can walk in the footsteps of slaves, and if you understand the history, it is not a happy journey. The same is true at Friendfield Plantation outside Georgetown, South Carolina.

It's not exactly "Gone With the Wind," but what makes this overgrown 3,300 acres of marsh and pine trees stand out is this: The family of first lady Michelle Obama believes her great-great grandfather was held as a slave here and labored in the mosquito-infested rice fields.

It makes Friendfield Plantation a symbol of something more than servitude. It's the symbol of something that's never happened before: One important segment of an American family's journey from the humiliation of slavery to the very top of the nation's ruling class.

CNN recently was the first television network allowed to visit the plantation and shoot video. It's not a museum. It's just private land, still with shadows of its past.

Friendfield's most distinctive historical feature, perhaps, is the dirt road known as Slave Street.

Keep reading...

July 17th, 2009
11:00 AM ET

Why retracing our African roots is so difficult

Editor's Note: An article in Thursday's New York Times details recent findings about Michelle Obama's genealogical roots.  Genealogist Tony Burroughs previously wrote this post for us about the challenges associated with tracing our roots and how professionals are working to better understand our collective histories.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/16/art.burroughs.family.jpg caption="Burroughs Family Photo, Chattanooga, Tennessee 1889. Pictured standing, left to right: Morris Burroughs; Malachias Williams; UNK; Samuel P. Johnson. Seated in the front row are: Robert Elliott Burroughs (baby); Mary Jane Lillie Williams Burroughs; & Martha Williams."]

Tony Burroughs
Professional Genealogist and Author

Many African Americans have longed to know their African roots, especially because our language and heritage have been destroyed by colonizers.

Historians have long documented that large numbers of Blacks were brought from different areas in Africa to what is now the United States. But in genealogy research, researchers have to prove the identity of specific individuals, and then document and prove relationships of them to their ancestors.

Genealogical proof is similar to that required in a probate court where relatives of the deceased have to be identified in order to distribute assets of the deceased. But the Board for Certification of Genealogists actually has a higher standard of proof for genealogy than a probate court.

There are several challenges to connect one’s ancestral genealogy back to Africa. Here’s why:


July 16th, 2009
12:48 PM ET
July 7th, 2009
01:01 PM ET

Obama girls take Russia by storm

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/07/art.sashamalia0707.gi.jpg caption="Sasha Obama wandered into her parent's bed early Tuesday morning to have a chat with her parents."]

Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

An unexpected visitor rushed into the bedroom of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, but the Secret Service wasn't worried about a security breach.

The visitor was 8-year-old Sasha Malia, who's touring Russia along with her older sister Malia. The younger girl could not contain her excitement about Dad's fifth foreign trip in office so she decided to wake her parents to tell them about it, the President cheerfully recounted in a CNN interview.

"Sasha this morning around 4am just wandered into our bed and plopped down and started chatting," Obama said in the interview a few hours later. "That was sort of a highlight, although I'm a little groggy now as a consequence."

Both Obama daughters are along for the ride this time around because school is out of session back in the Washington, D.C., area so they can travel overseas on weekdays without missing classes. On an earlier Presidential visit to France, Sasha and Malia showed up in Paris on a weekend after school was done for the week.


May 22nd, 2009
03:02 PM ET

The Meaning of Michelle Obama

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on Michelle Obama on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/28/first.lady/art.first.lady.jpg]

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Scherer

It was just two days after the Inauguration when an e-mail went around to Michelle Obama's staff, instructing everyone to be in the East Room of the White House at 3 that afternoon. The First Lady's advisers arrived to find the room filled with ushers and plumbers, electricians and maids and kitchen crew gathered in a huge circle, and Michelle in a T shirt and ponytail, very casual and very much in charge.

"This is my team that came with me from Chicago," Michelle said, pointing to her communications staff and policy people. "This is my team who works here already," she went on, indicating the ring of veterans around the room. Many of the household staff had served for decades; some had postponed retirement because they wanted to serve an African-American President. And so the two groups formed concentric rings and spent the next hour or so making sure that everyone had a chance to meet everyone else. I want you to know that you won't be judged based on whether they know your name, Michelle had warned her advisers. You'll be judged based on whether you know theirs.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michelle Obama
May 22nd, 2009
11:59 AM ET

First spouses second to none

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

The French have a remarkable talent for irritating Americans with their fancy wines, fluffy poodles, and snotty attitudes about cycling. But when it comes to picking First Ladies, you’ve got to hand it to them. And that’s saying something considering the extraordinary popularity of our own Première Femme, Michelle Obama.

Seriously, have you been keeping up with the adventures of French President Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni? Anyone who follows international news knew that we were in for a treat the moment she alighted on his arm, and she has met every expectation: From crooning songs about drug abuse, to being locked in a legal battle with a company that was selling shopping bags bearing her nude image.

Most recently, the former supermodel (an appellation with which, alas, I too am tagged) has once again stormed the headlines by lighting into the Pope, saying his views on contraception are hurting the fight against AIDS in Africa. Like President Obama’s Notre Dame speech here, the kerfuffle certainly does not involve all the Catholics in her country, but still at the original Notre Dame…mon Dieu!

Maybe the uproar would be less uproarious if it were not for another recent story swirling around her, namely a Paris burglary that netted one lucky thief hundreds of photographs of a Bruni taken during her years with a former lover; photographs described as “highly intimate.” Phrases like that need no translation.


May 16th, 2009
08:38 AM ET

Video: Michelle Obama brings hope

Creative students at University of California, Merced lobbied the White House and pushed hard to get Michelle Obama to speak at their graduation.

Filed under: Education • Erica Hill • Michelle Obama
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