About this podcast

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson and her brother Craig grew up as part of a working class family on the South Side of Chicago. Some of their ancestors were slaves. Her father set an example for hard work. He had multiple sclerosis, but he almost never missed a day of work. Their mother worked hard to take care of the home and family. Both children were raised with an emphasis on education. Their parents taught them to read by the age of 4, and they both skipped second grade. She said, "I was just a typical South Side little black girl. Not a whole lot of money. Going to the circus once a year was a big deal. Getting pizza on Friday was a treat. Summers were long and fun."

Michelle went to public schools in Chicago. By sixth grade, she began going to classes for gifted children. She went to Chicago's first magnet high school even though the commute to school took more than an hour. She took advanced placement classes, was a member of the National Honor Society, and was treasurer of the student council. When Michelle graduated in 1981, she was the salutatorian of her class. This means she had the second highest average.

Michelle went to Princeton University. Her senior thesis was "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." She joined the Third World Center, a group that supported minority students. She helped run their day care center and do tutoring. She studied sociology and African-American studies graduating with honors in 1985.




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