In a new book, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David J. Garrow reveals new details about Barack Obama’s life before his ascendency to the U.S. presidency.
Garrow reveals that the former president proposed marriage to another woman before Michelle Obama. Obama was seriously involved with Sheila Miyoshi Jager during his time living in Chicago. The book claims that even after Barack met Michelle, he kept seeing Jager on and off for at least a year.
Jager and Obama lived together and had serious marriage discussions, with Jager recalling, “In the winter of ’86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him.” However, she declined his proposal because her mother thought that at age 23, she was too young to get married.
Jager also reveals that Obama didn’t introduce her to his community-organizer colleagues. In the book, a mutual friend of the couple recalls Obama explaining that “the lines are very clearly drawn: If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here.”
The “resolution of his black identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career,” she told Garrow.
Although Obama cared about Jager, Garrow writes, “he felt trapped between the woman he loved and the destiny he knew was his.”
Jager recalls Obama’s ambitions early on, stating, “I remember very specifically that by 1987, about a year into our relationship, he already had his sights on becoming president.”
The two eventually went their separate ways, with Barack Obama attending Harvard Law School and Jager going to South Korea for dissertation research. She is now a professor at Oberlin College.
The Brooklyn house where Barack Obama once lived is listed for sale for $4.3 million:
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