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First Lady Guides District Children Through a History Lesson



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The Post's DeNeen L. Brown was the pool reporter today for a visit by District schoolchildren to the White House. Her report:

First lady Michelle Obama invited about 180 students from D.C. schools to the East Room of the White House today for a celebration of African American History Month and to hear a performance by the famous a cappella ensemble, "Sweet Honey in the Rock."

The pool was invited into the East Room about 4 p.m. (Also included in the audience were children of White House staff.)

The program began about 4:10 p.m. with an introduction by Chief Usher of the White House, Admiral Rochon.

Rochon, who the White House says always works behind the scenes, was invited by Mrs. Obama to share his personal story with the students. Rochon welcomed the students to the White House and gave a "special welcome to the first daughters, Malia and Sasha, and their wonderful grandmother," Marian Robinson, who sat in the front row. (Sasha wore red and had a silver head band. Malia was in yellow.)

Rochon told the students: "How exciting it is for me to come into the White House and greet the president and the first lady every day." He told the students a bit about the history of the White House -- that "the house was built by African-American slaves and freed men. I am the first African American to lead the staff."

Rochon acknowledged Bill Hamilton as the longest serving employee of the White House. Hamilton, who stood at the side of the East Room, has been working at the White House for 51 years. Hamilton waved as the audience applauded.

Rochon told the students: "If you wish to succeed in life, study hard and listen to your parents and to your teachers.... Do the right things for the right reasons.... Deep down inside, you know what is right and wrong.... Strive to do your best at whatever you do, but be humble."

Rochon introduced the first lady who came into the room to applause from the students.

Mrs. Obama told the students she hoped they were listening closely to the admiral's story, "Because this is a very wise man who is a very amazing professional in his own right. And he has made our transition to this place just fun and welcoming. He is our friend."

She told the students that Rochon's rise came from hard work. "Like Barack and I, the Admiral didn't rise to his position because of wealth or because he had a lot of material resources. See, we were all very much kids like you guys. We just figured out one day that our fate was in our own hands. We made decisions to listen to our parents and to our teachers, and to work very, very hard for everything in life. And then we worked harder any time anybody doubted us."

She invited the students to visit the White House often, because she said it should be a place of "learning and for sharing new and different ideas, sharing new forms of art and culture, and history and different perspectives."

Mrs. Obama added: "So many milestones in black history have touched this very house. Just to name a few, did you know that African-American slaves helped to build this house?"

"Yes!" the students responded.

Mrs. Obama stood on a stage in the East Room. On either side of the stage were huge oil paintings. On one side was a painting of the first first lady, Martha Washington, and on the other, a painting of President George Washington.

Mrs. Obama shared other moments in black history with the students. "Did you know that right upstairs in a bedroom called the Lincoln Bedroom, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that marked an important step forward in ending slavery? Did you know that happened right here?"

The children responded: yes. And she told them about former president Rutherford B. Hayes, who was president in 1878 when soprano Marie Seilka became "the first African-American artist to perform right here in the White House. That was in 1878. Did you know that? Because I didn't know that."

Mrs. Obama told the students about Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders who met here in the White House with presidents Kennedy and Johnson to talk about ending segregation.

"Pretty cool, huh?" Mrs. Obama said.

And she asked them whether they knew who lives in the White House now and why he was making history.

A girl in the audience answered: "He is the first African American president of the United States."

Mrs. Obama asked the girl to stand. "Very good," Mrs. Obama said. "So you guys know your history. That's a good thing. That means your parents and teachers are doing their jobs."

After Mrs. Obama spoke, the group Sweet Honey in the Rock took the stage, singing "This Little Light of mine. I'm going to let it shine." They too shared lessons of African American History with the students.

They sang a "Ballad of Harry T. Moore," a civil rights activist whose home was bombed.

They also sang: "All I have to do;" "Education is the Key;" "Do What the Spirit Says to Do;" "When I Grow up;" "Young and Positive" ; "I Like That Way."

Sweet Honey ended with "Civil Rights Medley/ Ella's Song."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 18, 2009; 7:39 PM ET
Categories:  Michelle Obama , Washington Life  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Attorney General: America a 'Nation of Cowards' on Race
Next: Obama on the Line: President Reaches Out to Latino and African American Radio

Comments

Saint...You are idiot, but I am sure you have heard that before.

Posted by: mykaladrian | February 20, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I am really touched by the First Lady's story. May God bless and keep America.The world has become a better place to live when human values are appreciated!!!

May God bless this Administration.The young children will always pray for the first family. You have my payers too.

May God bless the world and give it peace.

Nnennaya

Posted by: nonye284 | February 20, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

This goes out to all the People like Michelle O'Bomba who just CAN'T LET SOMETHING GO-Even if they, or their Parents, or the Frigging Parent's Parents never even were involved!

It is a Tale by Buddha:

Two Priests were traveling. The older Priest was instructing the younger Priest with him.

They came upon a River. At the River was a young Woman who was intimidated by the swift current.

As they crossed the River, the younger Priest helped the Woman by carrying her!

Later, as they settled down for the Night, the Older Priest Lectured the Student:

"As Priests, we share our vows of Chasity. In being able to maintain this vow, we strive not to become tempted, by avoiding such things as Physical Contact with Attractive Young Women!"

At the rebuke, the Younger Priest smiled at the Elder, and sympathetically asked: "I can understand your concerns master.

BUT, tell me, Why do you still carry the Woman;

I left at the River?"

There comes a time, to LET THINGS GO!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 19, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I THINK THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. I LIKE THAT THE FIRST LADY IS FOCUSING ON CHILDREN AND SCHOOLS. EVERYONE SENDS THEIR CHILDREN TO THE BEST SCHOOLS THEY CAN AFFORD. I THINK THAT PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THAT THE OBAMA GIRLS SHOULD GO TO DC PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS JUST BEING HATEFUL. SOME RESPONSIBLE PARENTS WORK TWO OR THREE JOBS FOR THEIR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION. MANY PARENTS ARE HAVING PROBLEMS BECAUSE THEY WERE COUNTING ON A SECOND MORTGAGE TO GET THEIR CHILDREN EDUCATED. I THINK THE PRESIDENT IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK TO SUPPORT AND FUND EDUCATION. GWB CREATED NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND WHICH WAS NOT AN ORIGINAL IDEA AND HE NEVER PROVIDED FUNDS FOR IT. OTHER PRESIDENTS WANTED TO ABOLISH THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. THE AMERICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM USED TO BE THE BEST IN THE WORLD. NOW IT RANKS LOWER THAN DEVELOPING NATIONS. PRIVATE SCHOOLS CAN ONLY BE ATTENDED BY THE VERY WEALTHY OR THE VERY SMARTEST. IT HAPPENS THAT THE OBAMAS ARE OF THE SMARTEST, NOT THE WEALTHYEST. GWB WAS OF THE WEALTHYEST AS WAS JOHN MC CAIN. IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE. IF JUST ONE OF THOSE CHILDREN STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE IT IS WORTH IT.
GOOD LUCK AND BE OF GOOD COURAGE OUR DEAR MICHELE.

Posted by: sm98yth | February 19, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

virgosiempre, I know you really, really want to get started criticizing, but you might want to pause first and read the article. Then you'd know that Ms Obama was not visiting any school, but inviting local school children into the White House. I'm sure you'll find a problem with that, too, but at least you won't sound like an idiot.

Posted by: nodebris | February 19, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

God bless you always.
We will keep you and the President and your two beautiful children in our prayers always. Keep up the good work, do not stop. Yours has been ordained by the Almighty and HE will see you through. May HE shower you with blessings only HE can give. In HIS awesome name and with much thanksgiving, we pray.

Posted by: feliciawilson-atta | February 19, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Aren't we gushing over our First Lady doing her photo op in a Public School. A Public School she would NEVER allow her daughters to attend because they are in a posh and EXPENSIVE, EXCLUSIVE PRIVATE SCHOOL. Mrs. Obama go speak at your daughter's fancy school, obviously yours and your husband's comfort zone.

Posted by: virgosiempre | February 19, 2009 4:52 AM | Report abuse

Can't get much better than this.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 18, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

It is so wonderful to see the White House be open to everyone and to see how the Obamas have embraced their new home city.

What a wonderful lesson to all of us to get to know those around us no matter who we are or where we are.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 18, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

This is absolutely fantastic!!! It's beyond fantastic, and it's so great for the children of Washington, DC.

I always knew Obama, Michelle and Mrs. Robinson would not only make history, but create an opportunity for DC children that no one else attempted.

Posted by: scheduler | February 18, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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