My Dad on the Real Story of the Obamas’ First Date
Posted on September 9, 2016 at 10:51 pm
My parents, Newton and Josephine Minow, saw Southside With You, and so my dad wrote an article for the Huffington Post about the real story behind the scene in the film where Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson run into a senior lawyer and his wife, characters based on my parents. Barack Obama was working as a summer intern in my dad’s office at Sidley Austin in Chicago, recommended by my sister Martha, his professor. The firm assigned Michelle Robinson to be his supervisor.
My wife Jo and I went to the theater at Water Tower Place in Chicago to see the Spike Lee movie, “Do the Right Thing.” We walked into the theater and saw Barack and Michelle buying popcorn at the concession stand. It was their first date.
They were startled and embarrassed, because she did not want anyone in the office to know they were seeing each other outside of work. They thought a supervisor should not be dating a summer associate. Jo and I reassured them that there was no problem, and we went in together to watch the film.
They became friends and Dad goes on to talk about an important conversation he had with then-Senator Obama in 2006.
In 2006, I wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune urging him to run for president. I said he combined a first-class temperament with a first-class intellect. Later that year, he asked to meet with me and with my lifelong friend, the late Abner Mikva, because he was deciding whether he was ready — and he country was ready — for him to run. His most important question was whether Ab and I, each the father of three spectacular daughters, thought he could be a good father if he campaigned and was elected president. We told him he would see more of his daughters as President than he did as a senator, and I thought of that conversation many times as I read about the Obamas’ nightly family dinners in the White House.
My best memories of my childhood include the family dinners at our house and I am very touched that Barack Obama understood that my dad could guide him on parenting as well as politics.