Tag: First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama Awards 13 Youth Arts Programs at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calling a group of artistic youth the “next generation of fabulous,” Michelle Obama presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 after-school programs from across the country and one international program from Honduras.

Honorees included a musical theater program co-created by comedian Rosie O’Donnell that serves low-income students in New York City.

The first lady presented the awards Tuesday to recognize the nation’s best youth programs that use arts and humanities to develop skills and increase academic achievement. She honored programs that teach ceramics, dance, music, writing, science and more. Each of the U.S. programs will receive $10,000.

The annual White House ceremony included a live performance from winning program, A Commitment to Excellence, or ACTE II. The New York group performed a song and dance medley including “I Got Rhythm,” ”Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and “Empire State of Mind.”

“Wow…that wasn’t singing, that was ‘sanging,’” Mrs. Obama quipped, referring to the group which she predicted is destined for Broadway.

Mrs. Obama urged continued funding and support for arts and humanities programs, which she said also teach students problem-solving, teamwork and discipline.

“There are millions of kids like these with talent all over the place, and it’s hidden and it’s untapped and that’s why these programs are so important,” Mrs. Obama said. “We wouldn’t know that all this existed without any of these programs and that would be a shame.”

The 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are hosted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.

The 13 programs recognized with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award during the White House ceremony are:

— A Commitment to Excellence (ACTE II), New York.

—Action Arts and Science Program, Sioux Falls, S.D.

—Art High, Pasadena, Calif.

—CityDance DREAM Program, Washington.

—Spy Hop Productions, Salt Lake City.

—Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee.

—Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Inc., New Orleans.

—VSA Indiana, Inc. , Indianapolis.

—The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

—Deep Center, Inc., Savannah, Ga.

—The Telling Room, Portland, Maine.

—Caldera, Portland, Oregon.

—Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE), El Progreso, Honduras.

article by Stacy A. Anderson, AP via blackamericaweb.com

President Obama Named GQ’s ‘Man Of The Year’

ObamaGQcover

One day after Barack Obama broke the Internet – talkin’ ‘bout “folks wanna pop off” – the President of the United States has been announced as GQ Magazine’s Man of the Year, gracing the cover for a second time.

In the accompanying interview with Grantland founder and “30 for 30” co-creator, Bill Simmons, POTUS reveals some interesting tidbits about his relationship with FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, and his teenage daughters Malia and Sasha.

Read some excerpts below, courtesy of UsMagazine.com:

How his daughters operate their cell phones:

“It’s so interesting watching my daughters. Both are complete ninjas on the phone, right? And they can do things that I don’t even understand — they’re doing it in two seconds,” Obama shared. “But I even see a difference between Malia, who’s 17, and Sasha, who’s 14. There’s almost a mini-generational gap in terms of Sasha being so connected seamlessly to this smartphone in a way that Malia, who was already a little bit older when it really started to take, is not.”

The five people he would answer the phone for while on a date with Michelle:

“Malia and Sasha,” Obama told GQ with a laugh. “And maybe my mother-in-law. My national security advisor, Susan Rice, and Denis McDonough, my chief of staff. Those are the only people whose call I would take during a date night with Michelle.”

The way some people look at Malia:

The president was asked if anyone has driven up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to pick up his eldest daughter, Malia, for a date. “No,” he replied. “But I’ve seen some folks glancing at her in ways that made me not happy.” In fact, Obama joked that he tells the Secret Service to “keep an eye on him.”

He’s like Aaron Rodgers under pressure:

The leader of the free world compared himself to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers when he’s under pressure. “One thing I learned during the campaign was that I’ve got a good temperament. I don’t get too high and I don’t get too low. I’m able to stay focused even when there’s a lot of stuff going on around me,” he shared, saying he was “maybe Rodgers in the pocket, in the sense of you can’t be distracted by what’s around you, you’ve got to be looking downfield.”

The Sandy Hook shootings are among “the worst few days” of his presidency:

“Think about 2013, right after I’d been re-elected: Our goal was to lead with a big push on immigration reform,” Obama recalled. “And then, before the second inauguration has even happened, [the school shooting at] Sandy Hook happens. Which remains, by the way, the worst few days of my presidency. I went up and visited with those families and — you know, Bill, you’ve still got small kids. These are 6-year-olds, right? And you have 20 of them who’ve been massacred. Right away, our focus had to shift to ‘Is there a way for us to capture this moment to see if we can get over this incredible hump to try to put in place some common-sense gun-safety rules?’ And we knew it was a stretch, just because of the politics of Congress and the NRA. But we had to try.”

Read the entire interview HERE.

article via blackamericaweb.com

First Lady Michelle Obama Writes Powerful Editorial for The Atlantic: “Let Girls Learn”

First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via firstladies.org)
First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via firstladies.org)

First Lady Michelle Obama advocate for young women and girls across the globe with today’s frank and forthright editorial in The Atlantic magazine entitled “Let Girls Learn.”

That is also the title of her initiative with President Obama, which is aimed at doing just that. The program will not only fund leadership camps and address resource limitations, but it will also educate girls in conflict zones and address broader cultural beliefs that prevent girls from growing up to be successful, independent women.

Read her powerful essay below:

Right now, 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. They’re receiving no formal education at all—no reading, no writing, no math—none of the basic skills they need to provide for themselves and their families, and contribute fully to their countries.

Often, understandably, this issue is framed as a matter of resources—a failure to invest enough money in educating girls. We can solve this problem, the argument goes, if we provide more scholarships for girls so they can afford school fees, uniforms, and supplies; and if we provide safe transportation so their parents don’t have to worry that they’ll be sexually assaulted on their way to or from school; and if we build adequate school bathrooms for girls so they don’t have to stay home when they have their periods, and then fall behind and wind up dropping out.

And it’s true that investments like these are critical for addressing our global girls’ education crisis. That’s why, last spring, the president and I launched Let Girls Learn, a new initiative to fund community girls’ education projects like girls’ leadership camps and school bathrooms; educate girls in conflict zones; and address poverty, HIV, and other issues that keep girls out of school.

But while these investments are absolutely necessary to solve our girls’ education problem, they are simply not sufficient. Scholarships, bathrooms, and safe transportation will only go so far if societies still view menstruation as shameful and shun menstruating girls. Or if they fail to punish rapists and reject survivors of rape as “damaged goods.” Or if they provide few opportunities for women to join the workforce and support their families, so that it’s simply not financially viable for parents struggling with poverty to send their daughters to school.

In other words, we cannot address our girls’ education crisis until we address the broader cultural beliefs and practices that can help cause and perpetuate this crisis. And that is precisely the message I intend to deliver this week when I travel to the Middle East. I’ll be visiting girls at a school in Jordan—one of many schools in that country educating both Jordanian children and children whose families have fled the conflict in Syria—to highlight the power of investments in girls’ education. But I’ll also be speaking at a global education conference in Qatar where I’ll be urging countries around the world to both make new investments in girls’ education and challenge laws and practices that silence, demean, and brutalize women—from female genital mutilation and cutting, to forced child marriage, to laws that allow marital rape and disadvantage women in the workplace.

We know that legal and cultural change is possible because we’ve seen it in countries around the world, including our own. A century ago, women in America couldn’t even vote. Decades ago, it was perfectly legal for employers to refuse to hire women, and domestic violence was seen not as a crime, but as a private family matter. But in each generation, brave people—both men and women—stood up to change these practices. They did it through individual acts like taking their bosses to court, fighting to prosecute their rapists, and leaving their abusive husbands—and through national movements and legislation that brought changes like the 19th Amendment, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act.   

Cultural shifts like these can spur countries to make greater investments in girls’ education. And when they do, that can cause a powerful ripple effect that can lead to even greater cultural and political progress on behalf of women. Girls who are educated marry later, have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and are more likely to immunize their children and less likely to contract HIV. Educated girls also earn higher salaries—15 to 25 percent more for each additional year of secondary school—and studies have shown that sending more girls to school can boost an entire country’s GDP.

And when educated girls become healthy, financially secure, empowered women, they’re far better equipped to advocate for their needs and aspirations, and challenge unjust laws and harmful practices and beliefs. So really, this can be a virtuous cycle.

A walk to school in the southern Indian city of Kerala (Arko Datta / Reuters)

But ultimately, for me, this issue isn’t just about politics or economics—for me, this is a moral issue. As I’ve traveled the world, I have met so many of these girls. I’ve seen firsthand that every single one of them has the spark of something extraordinary inside of them, and they are so hungry to realize their promise. They walk for hours each day to school, learning at rickety desks in bare concrete classrooms. They study for hours each night, holding tight to their hopes for the future, even in the face of heartbreaking odds.

These girls are no different from my daughters or any of our daughters. And we should never have to accept our girls having their bodies mutilated or being married off to grown men as teenagers, confined to lives of dependence and abuse. We should never have to raise them in societies that silence their voices and snuff out their dreams. None of us here in the U.S. would accept this for our own daughters and granddaughters, so why would we accept it for any girl on our planet?

As a first lady, a mother, and a human being, I cannot walk away from these girls, and I plan to keep raising my voice on their behalf for the rest of my life. I plan to keep urging world leaders to invest in their potential and create societies that truly value them as human beings. I plan to keep reaching out to local leaders, families, and girls themselves to raise awareness about the power of sending girls to school. And I plan to keep talking about this issue here at home, because I believe that all of us—men and women, in every country on this planet—have a moral obligation to give all of these girls a future worthy of their promise and their dreams.  

Michelle Obama’s editorial via theatlantic.com

Obamas Sing Happy Birthday To Usher At White House [VIDEO]

Usher and the Obamas (photo via youtube)
Usher and the Obamas (photo via youtube)

Usher may be the reigning King of R&B, but, right now, we’re pretty sure he’s feeling like the King of the World.”

The soulful singer spent October 14, his 37th birthday, recording a taping of PBS’ concert series “In Performance at the White House.” He and his bride Grace were chatting with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama when they surprised him by singing “Happy Birthday” and presented him with a cupcake topped with a single candle.

The former “The Voice” coach seemed humbled — and in total disbelief — by the experience, at one point, turning to the videographer and asking, “Are you getting this?

After the First Couple were done singing to Usher, President Obama said, “That’s a good cupcake, too.”

Along with Usher, Queen Latifah, Smokey Robinson, and Esperanza Spalding also performed at the White House for the concert series.

See the Obamas serenade Usher in the video above.

article via newsone.com

First Lady Michelle Obama to Appear on Disney Jr.’s “Doc McStuffins” to Honor Child Health Day

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Doc McStuffins will feature first lady Michelle Obama in an Oct. 5, 2015, episode. (YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)

First Lady Michelle Obama is joining forces with Disney’s animated young children’s program about a veterinarian for toys, “Doc McStuffins.” The first lady’s appearance will coincide with Child Health Day as she invites Doc and her friends to the White House.

This special episode of “Doc McStuffins” premieres Monday, October 5 (9:00 a.m., ET/PT).  During Doc’s visit, Obama appoints her the official toy doctor of the White House. To see a clip, watch below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Obama Urges Focus on Black Women in Congressional Black Caucus Speech

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Awards. (photo via foxiness.com)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Gala. (photo via foxnews.com)

President Barack Obama pressed on Saturday night for a greater focus on helping black women who are more likely to be stuck in minimum wage jobs, have higher rates of illness and face higher rates of incarceration than other women.

His speech delivered to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual gala was short on hard policy prescriptions aimed directly at black women. Rather Obama said that many of the proposals that his administration has championed, such as raising the minimum wage and criminal justice reform, would help close the gap between black women and their peers.

The president briefly acknowledged Hillary Clinton, his former Secretary of State who was in the audience and is campaigning for the presidency. Obama called her “outstanding” and noted that she could relate to first lady Michelle Obama’s concerns over the pay gap that women face compared to their male counterparts.

“We are going to have to close those economic gaps,” Obama said.

Obama spent a significant portion of his remarks making the case for criminal justice reform, which has become a core part of his agenda during his remaining days in office. His push to pare back the prison population by reducing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders has garnered some Republican support, but still faces a tough odds in Congress.

Obama, spurred by a series of high profile cases of apparent police abuse, has spoken far more forcefully in recent months about the impact of racial bias on policing. He bristled, though, at some media depictions that suggested that he was anti-law enforcement.

“We appreciate them and we love them,” Obama said of police officers. “They deserve our respect. I just want to repeat that because somehow this never gets on television. There is no contradiction between caring about our law enforcement officers and making sure the laws are applied fairly.”

He paused and looked out at the crowd. “Hope I am making that clear,” he said. “I hope I am making that clear.”

The focus of his remarks, though, was on helping black women. Black women are one of the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituencies and consistently vote at higher rates in national elections than any other demographic group. In 2012, they turned out at a rate of 70 percent for the presidential election and were crucial to Obama’s victories in key states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Obama described the important and too often anonymous role that black women played during the civil rights movement and praised the recent push to put a black woman’s picture on the $10 bill. But he insisted that such symbolic actions fell short of what was needed. “We’ve got to make sure they are getting some ten dollar bills,” he said, “that they are getting paid properly.”

Obama made the case for better job training and more mentorship programs to encourage women of color to pursue careers in math and science. He noted that his wife often worried that she would be labeled too assertive or “too angry” as she pursued her career. His primary focus, though, was on black women who were struggling to get by on minimum wage salaries or trying to overcome abuse.

The president noted that the incarceration rate for black women is twice that of white women and described a “sinister sexual abuse to prison pipeline” in which traumatized women went on to commit crimes.

He called for more effort to stop violence and abuse against women “in every community and on every campus.”

 via washingtonpost.com

President Barack Obama Remembers 9/11, Salutes Troops in Town Hall

President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama on 9/11/15. (Photo via abcnews.go.com)
President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama on 9/11/15. (Photo via abcnews.go.com)

President Barack Obama told members of the military Friday that he calls them as he sees them when it comes to the big decisions his job requires.

“When I go to bed, I go to bed easy, because I know that I’ve made the best decisions I could make,” Obama said during a 9/11 military town hall at Fort Meade near Washington, D.C.

The commander in chief took questions from service members piped in from around the world during the event designed to mark the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“On 9/11, I thought it was particularly appropriate for me to be able to address you directly, and to say thank you on behalf of the American people,” Obama told the troops.

Whether in person, via phone, video conference, or the Internet, troops asked questions ranging from the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, to how the president and first lady Michelle Obama raise their daughters in the glare of the White House. (On that last query, the president said, “I just do what Michelle tells me to do and it seems to work out.”)

At one point, Obama says it appears to him that Syrian President Bashar Assad is inviting the Russian military into his country because he’s worried about holding onto power. The president said that the United States has warned Russia that beefing up its support for Assad is doomed to fail.

Obama also said that the United States needs to step up its responses to cyber attacks, and criticized China for some of its cyber practices.

The president chuckled when one of the troops asked him how he dealt with people “hating” and “talking smack” about him all the time.

“Not everyone is talking smack about me,” Obama said. “But there is a sizable percentage in Congress that talks smack about me, no doubt about it.”

Obama said he must own all decisions, whether it’s the operation that killed Osama bin Laden to the initial problems with the health care website, which he described as a “screw-up.”

Said Obama: “If it’s an easy question, it doesn’t get to my desk.”

In closing, the president again thanked the troops for their work in the years since 9/11.

“What you do is vital to our way of life,” Obama said. “America is strong, and it’s strong because of all of you.”

article by David Jackson via usatoday.com

First Lady Michelle Obama Teams Up With Wale for “Reach Higher” Education Initiative

First Lady Michelle Obama has tapped Wale for her Reach Higher education initiative that will promote higher education and career opportunities for young adults. The program will invite more than 130 college-bound students to the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit in Washington, D.C. These students will represent at-risk, special needs, homeless, foster and other underrepresented youth.

Wale is set to appear at the White House this Thursday to speak with the students and treat them to a show.

“I’m beyond honored and grateful to be involved in the First Lady’s ‘Reach Higher’ initiative and to have the opportunity to sit down with her, as well as perform for the kids of D.C.,” Wale said in a statement. “I believe that the youth are the first step in creating a better country, so to be involved in a program that aims to enrich their lives is truly the greatest reward. Having grown up in Washington, D.C., being invited to the White House by the first lady is a dream come true. Thank you to Mrs. Obama and her entire staff for this opportunity.”

Other participants at the Beating the Odds Summit will include Brown University student Manuel Contreras, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and E! News co-host Terrence Jenkins.

To learn more about the Reach Higher program, visit whitehouse.gov/reach-higher.

article by Dorkys Ramos via bet.com

President Obama Heading to Charleston on Friday to Deliver Eulogy

President Obama Speaks On Immigration Reform
President Obama

Washington (CNN) President Barack Obama will head to Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday to deliver the eulogy at funeral services for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the state senator who was one of nine people killed in the racially- motivated shooting last week in Charleston.

Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama will join Obama at the funeral services, the White House said Monday.  The visit will be Obama’s first to the city since the deadly shooting last week at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church.

The White House will release additional details of the visit in the coming days, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.  The visit will come days after Obama spoke candidly about racism in America during an interview for the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” released on Monday — even using the N-word, a word some consider offensive.

“Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” Obama said in the interview. “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

Obama’s visit to Charleston is also notable as he opted earlier this year not to visit Baltimore — which became the epicenter of the debate over race and policing issues — as protests unfurled in that city in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody.

article by Jeremy Diamond and Michelle Kosinski via cnn.com

Michelle Obama to Guest Edit “More”, Becomes 1st First Lady to Take Over Entire Magazine Issue

First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via wikipedia.org)
First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via wikipedia.org)

According to cnn.com, first lady Michelle Obama will be guest editing the July/August edition of “More” magazine. Not only will this be the magazine’s first guest editor, but Obama will be the first First Lady to guest edit an entire magazine issue, according to a statement released by the publication.  “The First Lady is the ultimate MORE woman,” said More Editor-in-Chief Lesley Jane Seymour.

The magazine also revealed the issue will highlight women Obama said influenced her during her six years in the White House.  The First Lady has previously been featured on the cover of People, Time and Vogue just to name a few. But, the road to the White House wasn’t all glamorous.

It’s been a busy and public week for Obama. She made headlines Tuesday when she gave an emotional commencement speech to a group of students in Chicago, her hometown, speaking about the harsh realities of gun violence in the city and discussing her own experience growing up on the South Side.

“I know the struggles many of you face: how you walk the long way home to avoid the gangs; how you fight to concentrate on your schoolwork when there’s too much noise at home; how you keep it together when your family’s having a hard time making ends meet,” Obama said.

More magazine is a publication designed as a “stylish guide for women of influence.” Obama’s guest-edited edition will be available June 23.

article by Sophie Tatum via cnn.com