The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • Follow First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2012 Olympic Games in London on Twitter @LetsMove

    First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London and you can follow her visit through the @LetsMove Twitter account.

    While in London, the First Lady and the delegation -- including Olympic and Paralympic greats Brandi Chastain, Dominique Dawes, Gabriel Diaz de Leon, Grant Hill, and Summer Sanders -- will attend the Opening Ceremony, meet with U.S. athletes competing in the games, and encourage American children to be active in their daily lives.

    Be sure to follow @LetsMove for updates, or check out all of the tweets from the road below or over on Storify.


  • The President and First Lady Honor Nelson Mandela International Day

    First Lady Michelle Obama talks with President Nelson Mandela

    First Lady Michelle Obama talks with former South African President Nelson Mandela about his book during a visit at Mandela's home in Houghton, South Africa, June 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Today, July 18, marks the fourth annual Nelson Mandela International Day. Below, read the statement from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama honoring the day, and Mandela's life and work. 

    On behalf of the people of the United States, we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 94th birthday and the fourth annual Nelson Mandela International Day. Mandela’s extraordinary life and steadfast commitment to the principles of democracy and reconciliation continues to be a beacon for people of all backgrounds who strive for dignity, justice, and freedom. 

    Nelson Mandela’s personal story is one of unbreakable will, unwavering integrity, and abiding humility.  On a personal note, our family has been inspired by Madiba’s example, and has deeply appreciated the time we have spent with him, and his wisdom, grace and generosity of spirit.  By any measure, Nelson Mandela has changed the arc of history, transforming his country, continent, and the world.

    In 2009, the United States joined 192 United Nations member states in the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. On this important occasion, we honor Madiba’s commitment to service and the betterment of our communities. There is no more fitting tribute to a man who has demonstrated to the world the extraordinary power of non-violence, of tolerance, and of unwavering service to our fellow men and women.


  • Taking in Team USA

    President Obama attends the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team's game against Brazil (July 17, 2012)

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, with granddaughter Naomi Biden, attend the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team's game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., July 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    In the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics, the USA men's basketball team last night played an exhibition game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

    President Obama was on hand, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden.

    The Obamas and company watched Team USA take on a talented and experienced Brazil squad, also featuring multiple NBA starters. Led by 30 points, six rebounds, and four steals from LeBron James, the Americans forced 23 turnovers to capture an 80-69 win.

    Earlier, the USA women's team routed their Brazilian counterparts, 99-67 -- led by 21 points from the three-time WNBA All Star Lindsay Whalen.

    President Obama met with both teams to offer some words of encouragement before the players and coaches head to the United Kingdom to defend their gold medals. The Olympics start on July 28, and the First Lady will help to lead the U.S. delegation.

    We managed to grab some behind the scenes video from the night. Check it out below.

    Earlier, we talked with Alonzo Mourning, a gold medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Team USA, about the challenges this year's squad will face in London. Watch Alonzo Mourning talk about Team USA basketball.

     


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Design Innovators at the White House

    First Lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to designers from the fields of fashion, architecture, technology, and landscapes on Friday during a luncheon in the East Room of the White House.

    The event was part of the Smithsonian's annual Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, and the winners, which included a diverse range of creative visionaries from the founder of the TED Conference to fashion designer Thom Browne to a company that partners with social entrepreneurs to address needs in developing countries, also participated in an education program for local high school students.

    In her remarks, the First Lady praised the winners for "pushing boundaries, creating and revealing beauty where we least expect it, and helping us all lead healthier, more sustainable lives:"

    And that is the defining characteristic of today’s honorees. All of them have done something really good for our country and our world. From the clothes we wear to the technologies we use to the public spaces we enjoy, their work affects just about every aspect of our lives. And on days like today, when we gather to celebrate these extraordinary individuals, it’s easy to go on and on about everything they’ve achieved and the impact that they’ve had. It is a very easy thing to do with this group.

    But it’s also important to remember that today’s awards ceremony is only part of the story. We know that for these men and women, the journey to this day began long before they ever walked through the doors of the White House. It started in studios and classrooms and dorm rooms, where they spent long hours and late nights hunched over a sketchpad or squinting at a computer screen, drafting and redrafting and re-redrafting. (Laughter.)

    And this is a point I especially want to emphasize for all of the young people who have joined us today. What you guys have to understand is that these honorees weren’t born brilliant designers. They became brilliant designers because they worked hard. They’re here today because they had a dream, and they put in long, hard, exhausting work -- all of that that it takes to follow that dream.


  • First Lady Michelle Obama at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's General Conference

    First Lady Michelle Obama at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's General Conference

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's General Conference June 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo)

    What a pleasure it was to travel to Nashville, Tennessee with the First Lady as she addressed the 49th Quadrennial Session of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church's General Conference.  The AME Church is the nation's oldest African American denomination. Tracing its roots back to the time of slavery in the late 1700s, the minister who started the first AME church did so after his former church demanded African Americans worship in a segregated balcony. Since then the denomination – fueled by the strength, determination, and unflinching faith that sustained that early church – has been an engine for change in communities throughout American history. AME churches have been stops on the Underground Railroad, hosts of civil rights marches, and even, founders of universities.

    The First Lady drew upon this rich history in her remarks to encourage all Americans to get involved in the lives of our families, our neighborhoods, and our country. The lessons and the legacy of the AME Church are part of our story as Americans, and as citizens, we have inherited the responsibility to be active and engaged in our democracy. She also spoke about the quiet heroes whose names we might not know – individuals working behind the scenes, day after day without recognition, helping to make our communities stronger. "Time and again," Mrs. Obama said. "History has shown us that there is nothing more powerful than ordinary citizens coming together for a just cause."

    Seeing and hearing the spirited enthusiasm of the crowd, estimated at 10,000, was uplifting and energizing.  But one particularly special moment took place after the First Lady’s speech when she returned backstage. There, she greeted Dr. Jayme Coleman Williams, a woman she mentioned in her remarks that has worked tirelessly in the AME Church for decades.  Ninety-three years young, Dr. Williams was a bundle of energy and spoke passionately about encouraging young people to stay engaged and keep building on the work that others have started to move our nation forward. Watching the two hug and chat – one, a quiet hero and the other, the First Lady of the United States – was a poignant reminder of the extraordinary change that can happen when people get involved and make their voices heard.

    The First Lady’s remarks can be found here.


  • 23 States Have Now Passed Pro-Military Spouse License Portability Measures

    First Lady Michelle Obama holds the “Military Family Licensing Act,” signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (June 26, 2012)

    First Lady Michelle Obama holds the “Military Family Licensing Act,” signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, which will help military spouses and veterans transfer their professional licenses to Illinois more easily, during a signing ceremony at the Donnelly Armory in Chicago, Ill., June 26, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Earlier today in Chicago, I had the wonderful privilege of joining First Lady Michelle Obama and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn as the Governor signed into law the “Military Family Licensing Act,” which will help literally thousands of military spouses and veterans transfer their professional licenses to Illinois more easily.

    Were you to tell me last year that we’d be standing in Illinois – or any other state for that matter – with the First Lady and witnessing the Governor signing a bill supporting military spouse license portability, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible.

    Well, we’re beyond possible in Illinois, license portability for military spouses is now… the law.

    Here’s the story of how we got here and what it means.

    The First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden spoke to the nation’s Governors and their spouses in February about how they could support military spouses by making it easier for their licenses to transfer as they move from state to state.

    You can appreciate that there are hundreds of issues that the First Lady and Dr. Biden could have addressed but they focused on supporting our nation’s military spouses and in this case the 100,000 military spouses in the country who serve in professions that require state licenses.

    Back in February, only 11 states had pro-spouse legislation in-place.

    Today, Illinois became the 23rd state to adopt pro-military spouse license portability measures. The Bill will allow military spouses moving to bases in Illinois, for example, to more quickly and efficiently join the work force. So if your husband or wife gets orders and you’re heading to Naval Station Great Lakes to train the next generation of young sailors at “Boot Camp” and you’re a nurse – or your spouse got orders to Scott Air Force Base to help manage the issues of global logistics and you’re a physical therapist ----- your life just got a LOT better.

    This leap of support from around the country is truly extraordinary– in less than 4 months since the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s call to action, the number of states supporting military spouse licensing portability has more than doubled.

    That’s a huge leap – particularly because the issue of license portability is not new – it’s decades old. I’m an Army brat and I remember my parents talking about this when I was a kid. And this issue affects dozens of professions who are impacted including teachers, nurses, speech pathologists, dental hygienists, physical therapists, counselors, and so many more.

    So whether it’s bringing companies together to hire military spouses or breaking down barriers to employment, every spouse in this country should know that America has your back. So as you serve this country, we’ll continue to work hard and serve you – and we won’t stop until you feel the thanks of a grateful nation.

    Brad Cooper is the Executive Director of Joining Forces. Sign up for the Joining Forces newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.


  • From the Archives: The First Lady's Trip to Africa

    Check out some highlights from the First Lady's trip to Africa:

    On this day last year, First Lady Michelle Obama embarked on a week-long official visit to South Africa and Botswana to promote youth leadership, education, health, and wellness, particularly among women and girls.

    On her trip, she delivered the keynote address at the Young African Women Leaders Forum, met with former South African President Nelson Mandela, did pushups with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and participated in two service projects at local community centers, among many other activites.


  • We Come Back Stronger

    Message signed by President Barack Obama on a beam at One World Trade Center

    Message signed by President Barack Obama on one of the final steel beams that will be installed as part of the framework of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s One World Trade Center site in New York, N.Y., June 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

     

    President and Mrs Obama toured the World Trade Center complex in New York yesterday, and got an up close look at the skyscraper that's being built to replace the twin towers that were destroyed in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

    The First Couple reviewed the entire site from the 22nd floor of One World Trade Center, and then made their way back down to the ground level, where they signed one of the final steel beams that will be added to the tower. The President wrote his message in red marker:  "We remember. We rebuild. We come back stronger!"

    President Barack Obama signs a steel beam at the One World Trade Center site

    President Barack Obama signs one of the final steel beams that will be installed as part of the framework of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s One World Trade Center site in New York, N.Y., June 14, 2012. First Lady Michelle Obama, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also signed the beam. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tour the One World Trade Center site

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tour the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s One World Trade Center site in New York, N.Y., June 14, 2012. The President talks with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, while the First Lady talks with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

     


  • May Morning Harvest in the White House Garden

    Back in March, a group of students from across the country joined First Lady Michelle Obama to plant a new crop in the White House garden.

    Check out this video of the planting of the White House garden here:

    Today, a new batch of students stopped by to harvest some of the lettuce, broccoli, peas, and garlic that have been growing ever since.


  • Women Chart a New Course Onboard U.S. Navy Submarines

    In 2009, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that for the first time in Navy history, women would be assigned to serve aboard Navy submarines.

    Yesterday, the first contingent of 24 women who completed the Navy’s nuclear submarine program met with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. They were joined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mark Ferguson.

    Women Submariners Visit the White House 5 29 12

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the U.S. Navy’s first contingent of women submariners to be assigned to the Navy’s operational submarine force, in the Blue Room of the White House, May 28, 2012. The 24 women were accepted into the Navy’s nuclear submarine program after completing an intensive training program and serve on ballistic and guided missile submarines throughout the Navy. Also attending were ADM Mark Ferguson, left, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) May 28, 2012.

    The commitment by the Navy to put women on submarines has gone from idea to reality in just a few short years -- these women are now serving in a variety of important jobs aboard ballistic and guided missile submarines in the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.