The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • Traveling to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal, June 26, 2013. Senegal President Macky Sall, left, and First Lady Marème Sall greeted the Obamas upon their arrival to Senegal. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Yesterday, President Obama, his family, and the U.S. delegation began our trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, as part of our commitment to invest in Africa’s development and its people. It is my first trip to these countries, and I look forward to meeting new faces from each country.

    In 2010, President Obama hosted a forum with 115 young leaders from more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They traveled more than 4,000 miles to discuss the continent’s future and promise at the White House and State Department. The young leaders embraced the challenge of leading sub-Saharan Africa for the next generation, and this week, we are excited to meet more young people who are taking up the mantle.

    We all know that Africa is a new center of global growth, and is creating more opportunities for its people than ever before.  The challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded to benefit all Africans. 

    As such, during this trip, President Obama will highlight three major themes:

    First, increasing U.S. trade and investment.  We are redoubling our efforts to create an environment that enables greater trade, and investment, through encouraging regional integration, legal reforms that break down barriers to the free flow of goods, and services, greater transparency, and anti-corruption measures.

    President Obama will also highlight the need to increase access to electricity, and expand trade, and investment. I will be participating in roundtables with United States Trade Representative Mike Froman to highlight business opportunities between the United States, and African countries. We will also discuss our effective partnerships on food security, and global health, which are delivering results by reducing hunger, and under-nutrition, improving child survival, and moving people out of poverty.


  • FLOTUS Travel Journal: Kicking Off Our Trip to Africa

    Today, my husband, President Obama, and I, along with our daughters, are heading to Africa – to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania – and we want young people all across America to join us!

    This is such an important trip because Africa is such an important partner to the United States on so many of the issues facing our world today – from climate change and terrorism, to poverty and disease, to the challenge of creating jobs in our global economy. And more than ever before, our success here in the U.S. is tied to the success of other countries around the world – in so many ways, we will all rise or fall together. So it’s critical that young people like you develop a global perspective as citizens of the world – it’s critical that you follow not just what’s happening in the news here in the U.S., but what’s happening all around the world, including the international travels and policies of our President. Because when it comes to the issues our countries face, young people like you – both here in the United States and across Africa – will have to work together to lead the way. In the coming years, you all will be building the businesses, and making the scientific discoveries, and drafting the laws and policies that will move our countries – and our world – forward for decades to come.

    That’s why, when I visited Africa back in 2011, I spent most of my time with passionate, dynamic, inspiring young people, listening to their stories and sharing my own. I also had the privilege of meeting one of the greatest heroes that Africa – and the world – has ever known: former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. President Mandela is in the hospital right now, and he is very much in our thoughts and prayers. I’ll be writing more about President Mandela’s extraordinary contributions to history – and what we can all do in our own lives to live up to his legacy – in future blog posts.


  • Goodwill Commits to Engaging Women Veterans

    Ophthalmologist Assistant Juanita Williams

    Ophthalmologist Assistant Juanita Williams smiles while describing her experiences at a Joining Forces event hosted by Goodwill Industries International. (Photo from Goodwill Industries International)

    Today, Goodwill Industries International announced that it is launching a new initiative that aims to assist 3,000 women veterans over the next two years.

    By the year 2020, women will represent over 10 percent of our nation’s veteran population. The new and expanded “Goodwill Serving America’s Heroes” initiative will take a holistic approach to the success of women leaving the Armed Forces by providing assistance with childcare costs, housing, support for those with disabilities, and connections to employers, to name a few. 

    Juanita Williams, currently employed as an ophthalmologist assistant, is a Navy veteran who utilized the services offered by Goodwill. She shared her opinion on Goodwill’s efforts. “Coming out of the service, we need this," she said. "We need these services that help us get back on our feet. They’ve helped me with child care, résumé writing classes, interview techniques and, of course, finding my employer.”


  • West Wing Week: 06/07/13 or “Cooler at Night"

    This week, the President urged Congress not to let student loan rates double and to confirm three judges for the federal appeals court in Washington, held bilateral meetings with the NATO Secretary-General and the President of Chile, kicked off a National Conference on Mental Health, honored the Super Bowl champions, and announced a major new initiative called ConnectED, while the Vice President wrapped up a weeklong trip to South America. That's May 31st to June 6th or, "Cooler at Night."


  • West Wing Week: 05/31/13 or "Greetings from Asbury Park"

    This week, the President spoke to the graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy, traveled to Oklahoma and New Jersey to highlight recovery efforts, and honored Memorial Day with the First Lady at Arlington National Cemetery. 


  • The White House Kitchen Garden Summer Harvest

    Ed. Note: This is a cross post from the blog of LetsMove.gov. You can find the original post here.

    First Lady Michelle Obama harvests vegetables with students

    First Lady Michelle Obama harvests vegetables with students in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, May 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Today, a group of student helpers joined First Lady Michelle Obama for the summer White House kitchen garden harvest. For this harvest, the First Lady invited children from two New Jersey communities that were affected by Hurricane Sandy and invited back all the children who helped plant the garden in April so they could see the fruits of their labors. First Lady Michelle Obama and the students got their hands dirty picking produce from the garden.

    So we’re here to harvest and we’re going to clear this out, right?  Right, Sam?  I know I’m going to be pulling up some radishes and doing some lettuce, but you guys are going to help harvest everything that’s over there.  

    After they were done harvesting they had a chance to try some of the vegetables they picked -- on a grilled garden pizza. 

    We’re going to actually get to eat what we harvest today.  So in addition to doing some harvesting, you guys are going to help -- we’re going to do some veggie flatbread pizzas with the vegetables from the garden.  You guys up for a little cooking, too?

    Watch a video of the planting below or on youtube:

    Want to plant your own garden? Check out the Let's Move gardening guides:


  • First Lady Michelle Obama: "I want to urge you guys to keep on working hard every single day."

    Today, the First Lady and actress Kerry Washington visited the Savoy School in Anacostia, one of eight schools selected last year for the Turnaround Arts Initiative at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Through the initiative, these high-poverty, traditionally underperforming schools are using the arts to dramatically improve the culture and climate and to bolster academic success for their students. 


  • West Wing Week: 05/24/13 or “Justice for Everybody”

    This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigration reform advocates and DREAMers themselves, and Gershwin Prize winner Carole King and friends to the White House, and delivered a major counter-terrorism speech at the National Defense University. 


  • Photo Gallery: Behind the Scenes in April 2013

    Go behind the scenes at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by checking out The White House Photo Office’s latest photo gallery. The gallery highlights some of the major events that occurred in April – from the Easter Egg Roll to the opening of the George W. Bush Library and Museum.

    Check out some of our favorite images below, and then see the full set on our Flickr gallery.

    • KidTribe hula hoopers perform during the Easter Egg Roll

      KidTribe hula hoopers perform during the Easter Egg Roll. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Obama and Chief of Staff McDonough walk along the South Lawn driveway

      President Obama and Chief of Staff McDonough walk along the South Lawn driveway. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Obama at the “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul” concert

      President Obama and First Lady Obama, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, listen as Eddie Floyd sings. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Obama at Ceremony with Alabama Crimson Tide football team

      President Obama following a ceremony honoring the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Obama at Cathedral of the Holy Cross following Boston Marathon bombings

      President Obama during an interfaith prayer service for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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    • President Obama at the White House Science Fair

      President Obama at the White House Science Fair in the East Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Obama with Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

      President Obama at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in West, Texas

      Fire Chaplain Duncan stands with the President and First Lady during a memorial service in West, Texas. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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  • First Lady Delivers Commencement Addresses at Bowie State, Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during the Bowie State University commencement

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during the Bowie State University commencement at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., May 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    On Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement address to the Bowie State University Class of 2013. Bowie State, which opened just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, "was founded not just to educate African Americans, but to teach them how to educate others,” the First Lady explained. 

    And since then, generations of students from all backgrounds have come to this school to be challenged, inspired and empowered. And they have gone on to become leaders here in Maryland and across this country, running businesses, educating young people, leading the high-tech industries that will power our economy for decades to come. 

    That is the story of Bowie State University, the commitment to educating our next generation and building ladders of opportunity for anyone willing to work for it. All of you are now part of that story. And with that tremendous privilege comes an important set of responsibilities -- responsibilities that you inherit the moment you leave this stadium with that diploma in your hand. 

    Read her full remarks here.

    On Saturday, she traveled to Nashville to speak to the graduating class of Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. The First Lady took the opportunity to talk to the students – all of whom are going on to higher education or the military – about some of the skills they’ll need as they make their way through college and through life: resilience, grit, and the ability to pick themselves up when they fall.