All week long, TODAY is marking the 30th anniversary of the summer of 1989 with a look back at some of the notable (and not-so-notable) people, milestones and moments from that wild and crazy time.
It might have been the year that Harry met Sally, but 1989 was also when Barack (Obama) met Michelle (Robinson). The future president and first lady would meet and go on their first date that summer in Chicago.
No one could have foreseen that date would become the stuff of legend — fodder for history books and movies and catnip for all the romantics out there.
While Barack and Michelle Obama would later go on to personify the term "power couple," that summer they were just two young people falling in love.
Over the years, the Obamas have opened up about that magical time.
Michelle Obama was a year into her job at a large Chicago law firm, and she had just been assigned to mentor and show the ropes to a summer associate — a Harvard law student with an unusual name.
Barack Obama: I met Michelle in 1989, after my first year of law school, when I took a summer job at Sidley & Austin, a law firm in Chicago. A year earlier I had been working as a community organizer in some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, and I struggled with the decision to go to a large firm. But with student loans mounting, the three months of salary they offered wasn't something I could pass up.
Michelle worked at Sidley, too, and, in the luckiest break of my life, was assigned to be my adviser, charged with helping me learn the ropes. I remember being struck by how tall and beautiful she was. — O, The Oprah Magazine, 2007
Michelle Obama: Barack Obama had already created a stir at the firm. ... Some of the secretaries who’d seen the guy come for his interview were saying that on top of this apparent brilliance he was also cute.
I was skeptical of all of it. In my experience, you put a suit on any half-intelligent black man and white people tended to go bonkers. I was doubtful he’d earned the hype.
I’d checked out his photo in the summer edition of our staff directory — a less-than-flattering, poorly lit headshot of a guy with a big smile and a whiff of geekiness — and remained unmoved.
Despite my resistance to the hype that had preceded him, I found myself admiring Barack for both his self-assuredness and his earnest demeanor. — "Becoming," 2018
Barack Obama: Over the next several weeks, we saw a lot of each other at work. She was kind enough to take me to a few parties, and never once commented on my mismatched and decidedly unstylish wardrobe.
I asked her out. She refused. I kept asking. She kept refusing. — O, The Oprah Magazine, 2007
I asked her out. She refused. I kept asking. She kept refusing.
Michelle Obama: Not once, though, did I think about him as someone I’d want to date. For one thing, I was his mentor at the firm. I’d also recently sworn off dating altogether, too consumed with work to put any effort into it. — "Becoming," 2018
Barack Obama: "I'm your adviser," she said. "It's not appropriate." Finally, I offered to quit my job, and at last she relented. — O, The Oprah Magazine, 2007
Ice Cream and a Kiss
The two ended up going to a barbecue for their law firm's summer associates. After Michelle drove Barack home from the event, he suggested they get some ice cream, so the two walked down the block.
Michelle Obama: By the time we pulled into the neighborhood, the tension lay thick in the air between us, like something inevitable or predestined was about to happen. Or was I imagining it? — "Becoming," 2018
Barack Obama: I offered to buy her ice cream. And then bought her some chocolate ice cream. And I think that is what put her over the top. That’s where she said, this guy knows how to treat a woman. — "Happy 20th Anniversary Barack and Michelle," 2012
Michelle Obama: This is when I knew the game was on, one of the few times I decided to stop thinking and just live. ... There was a Baskin-Robbins on the block near Barack’s apartment, and we got ourselves two cones, taking them outside to eat, finding ourselves a spot on the curb. — "Becoming," 2018
I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate.
Barack Obama: I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate. — O, The Oprah Magazine, 2007
Michelle Obama: And with that, I leaned in and everything felt clear. — "Becoming," 2018
A plaque was later installed at the former location of that Baskin-Robbins in Hyde Park, commemorating the kiss.
Michelle Obama: The kids are highly embarrassed that there's a plaque about their parents' first kiss. — ABC News, 2018
The First Official Date
The kiss may have sealed the deal, but Michelle wanted to keep their fledgling relationship under wraps for the time being. The first official date as a couple was a full day of activities in Chicago.
Michelle Obama: It was a cool date. We spent the whole day together. He was showing me all facets of his character. So we went to the Art Institute.
Barack Obama: Guys out there, art impresses people.
Michelle Obama: He showed his cultural side. And then we took a nice, long walk.
Barack Obama: Kind of romantic.
Barack Obama: We had lunch at the Art Institute.
Michelle Obama: Our first meal was a lovely lunch.
Barack Obama: And then we went to see “Do The Right Thing.” — "Dinner with Barack and Michelle," 2012
Michelle Obama: He was trying to show me his sophisticated side by selecting an independent filmmaker, and it ended up being a pretty good movie ... really great. — "Do The Right Thing" 25th anniversary, 2014
Barack Obama: Take tips, gentlemen. — "Dinner with Barack and Michelle," 2012
The couple ran into Sidley & Austin law partner Newt Minow and his wife at the movie theater.
Michelle Obama: Still concerned about propriety, I insisted we keep our blooming relationship out of sight of our colleagues.
We’d even been busted the very first night we’d been out in public as a couple, shortly after our first kiss … we bumped into one of the firm’s most-ranking partners, Newt Minow, and his wife, Josephine, in the popcorn line. — "Becoming," 2018
Newt Minow: Michelle was very embarrassed, because she felt that as his supervisor, she shouldn't be dating him. It made no difference to us that she was dating him. — TODAY, 2019
Michelle Obama: They greeted us warmly, even approvingly, and made no comment on the fact we were together. But still, there we were. — "Becoming," 2018
Newt Minow: I thought, they have so much in common. And he was very, very happy with her. She was his intellectual equal. — TODAY, 2019
The Obamas tied the knot on Oct. 3, 1992. They've since had two daughters, Malia, a Harvard undergrad, and Sasha, who just graduated high school. Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States in 2008.
The summer the couple met and had their first date became the basis of a 2016 feature film, "Southside With You."
Barack Obama: There’s no doubt I’m a better man having spent time with Michelle. I would never say that Michelle’s a better woman, but I will say she’s a little more patient. — Vogue, 2013
Michelle Obama: It has to be a true partnership, and you have to really, really like and respect the person you're married to because it is a hard road. ... Don't expect it to be easy, melding two lives and trying to raise others, and doing it forever. I mean, that's a recipe made for disaster, so there are highs and lows. But if in the end you can look him in the eye and say, 'I like you.' I stopped believing at love in first sight. I think you go through that wonderful love stage, but when it gets hard, you need a little bit more. — "The Oprah Winfrey Show," 2011