Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother, passes away at 86

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 06: First lady Michelle Obama (L) applauds with her mother Marian Robinson (R) during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC,

Marian Robinson – a Chicago native and mother to former first lady Michelle Obama – has died.

Robinson was born in Chicago in 1937 and lived on the South Side her entire life until moving to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to help take care of her granddaughters after the election of President Barack Obama.

She was married to fellow South Sider Fraser Robinson until he died in 1991. Robinson was 86-years-old, and family members say she passed away peacefully Friday morning. 

In a public statement today, Obama shared that she was heartbroken and called Robinson "her rock." Obama’s statement went into detail about Robinson’s life in Chicago.

"As a young woman, she studied to become a teacher before working as a secretary," the statement read. "She fell quickly and madly in love with Fraser Robinson, another South-Sider with a boxer’s strength and jazz-lover’s cool. Together, they raised two children, Craig and Michelle, in a tiny upstairs apartment on Euclid Avenue in South Shore.


Marian Robinson, First Lady Michelle Obamas mother, reads a book during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 13, 2009. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

On Mother’s Day, Michelle Obama announced a new "Opening the White House" exhibit at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago would be named after her mother. On the center’s website, Obama wrote at length about her relationship with her mother.

"Growing up with my mom always was an adventure," Obama said. "It entailed trips to the library as a toddler to learn the alphabet; the entire family piling into our car to go to the local drive-in—homemade chicken in hand. It included Mom inviting family over for New Year’s Eve, raising a toast as the clock struck midnight."

"But above all else, my mother gave me nonstop, unconditional love in so many ways. She fostered in me a deep sense of confidence in who I was and who I could be by teaching me how to think for myself, how to use my own voice, and how to understand my own worth.

"I simply wouldn’t be who I am today without her."

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden also issued a statement on Robinson's passing, shared below: 

"We knew Mrs. Marian Robinson as a devoted mother and grandmother with a fierce and unconditional love of her family. With the blessing of friendship, we felt that love ourselves – with every quiet smile or warm embrace she shared with us.

"She believed, like we do, that family is the beginning, middle and end.  She moved into the White House to be there for her family when they needed her the most, and in so doing, she served her country right alongside them. Her life is a reminder that we are a great nation because we are a good people.

"The entire Biden family sends its deepest love to Michelle, Craig, Barack, Kelly, and the six irrepressible grandchildren whom she helped to raise and so loved, and in whom her kind and gentle spirit lives on. 

"May she rest in peace with her beloved Fraser.

"May God bless Mrs. Marian Robinson."