The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • #LunchWithFLOTUS: The First Lady's Twitter Q&A on Healthy School Lunches

    Today, millions of kids across America are eating better school meals because of healthier lunch standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thanks to the hard work of school chefs and food service workers around the country, 90 percent of our schools are now meeting modern nutrition standards -- and the USDA is working to provide greater flexibility and more assistance to help the remaining schools catch up.

    As part of her Let's Move! initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama has helped raise awareness around the importance of our kids eating healthy and getting the nutrition they need -- and now she's taking to Twitter to answer your questions.

    Tomorrow, Thursday, June 12, at 2:30 p.m. ET, join the First Lady for a Twitter Q&A on school nutrition and healthy school lunches on her Twitter handle, @FLOTUS.

    Here are the details:

    • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #LunchWithFLOTUS
    • Follow the Q&A live through the @FLOTUS Twitter handle
    • If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/whitehouse

    Learn more about the First Lady's initiative to encourage healthy eating at Letsmove.gov/eat-healthy, and then join the First Lady for a Twitter chat on @FLOTUS on Thursday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET.


  • My College Story Can Be Yours

    Ed. note: The full version of this op-ed is posted at Education Week. Read the full version here.

    As first lady, I've spent a lot of time talking with young people all across the country about education. I've heard about their hopes of going to college, getting good jobs, and one day starting families of their own. And I've also heard about the challenges they're facing—the rising costs of tuition, their overstretched school counselors, and the insecurities and fears that come along with being first-generation college students.

    My message to these young people is that while all of us adults—teachers, administrators, and policymakers—have to do a better job of giving them the best schools and opportunities for their future, at the end of the day, they also need to step up and take responsibility for their education themselves.

    That means going to class every day, setting their goals high, and working like crazy to achieve them. That's been the story of my life and my husband's life, so when I talk to these young people, my hope is that they see that our story can be their story, too—as long as they're willing to dedicate themselves to their education.

    Early last month, I officially gave this effort a name and an aspiration—my Reach Higher initiative. And that's really the goal: to inspire young people to reach higher to complete their education beyond high school so that they can own their futures. We're focusing on things like financial aid, college counseling, academic and summer planning, and college visits. Our objective is to ensure that every student in this country understands how to pursue and complete their education, whether it's at a traditional four-year college or a community college, or via a professional certificate or degree.

    Read the First Lady's full op-ed here.


  • Honoring Dr. Maya Angelou

    Dr. Maya Angelou, whose timeless works such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings encouraged and stirred the souls of millions of readers, passed away last week at the age of 86.

    Dr. Angelou's family arranged a private memorial service in Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel on Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

    The First Lady, who has called Dr. Angelou one of her "she-roes" as well as a friend, spoke at the service.

    You can watch Wake Forest University's video of the service below or read the First Lady's remarks here.


  • The First Lady Announces the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

    First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at event to announce the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

    First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at event to announce, as part of the Joining Forces initiative, the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, in the East Room of the White House, June 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Today, at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015.

    Joined by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson, and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, the First Lady announced the nationwide challenge, which already has the commitment of 77 mayors, 4 county commissioners, and 4 governors to help meet this goal.

    Over the last three years, there has been a remarkable 24 percent decrease in homeless veterans, but with 58,000 homeless veterans across the nation, more still needs to be done. The Mayors Challenge will help us get there by involving federal, state, local and community organizations in this “eminently solvable problem.”


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Participates in Ceremony for New U.S. Navy Submarine -- Illinois

    First Lady Michelle Obama Participates In Ceremony For New US Navy Submarine – ILLINOIS

    As official sponsor of the future USS ILLINOIS, the First Lady inscribed her initials onto a steel plate to be welded as an enduring reminder of her special connection with the submarine and its crew.

    Today, in Rhode Island, First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a keel-laying ceremony of a new U.S. Navy submarine called the Illinois. She is the official sponsor of the USS Illinois and has chosen her daughters, Malia and Sasha, to be her maids of honor. In this traditional role, the maids of honor lend symbolic support to the sponsor in her ceremonial duties.

    The keel-laying ceremony is the first of three ceremonial events that mark the milestones during a submarine’s construction. It is the ceremonial start of construction for the submarine and gives the sponsor the first chance to see the submarine under construction and meet her crew. During the event, the First Lady's initials were welded onto a steel plate which will be mounted on to the submarine where it will remain permanently mounted.

    As the sponsor, the First Lady is participating in one of the Navy’s oldest and most hallowed traditions. Sponsors are selected to instill their spirit into the heart of a Navy warship. Additionally, the sponsor is the ceremonial link between the submarine, her crew, and the submarine’s namesake.

    In her remarks as the sponsor of the Illinois, the First Lady highlighted the service and sacrifice that all Navy submariners and their families have made for our great Nation.

    Commander Cara LaPointe, U.S. Navy, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady.


  • Remembering and Celebrating the Life of Dr. Maya Angelou

    Maya Angelou delivers her poem at the inaugural ceremonies for President Bill Clinton

    Maya Angelou reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the 1993 Presidential Inauguration of William J. Clinton. U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. January 20, 1993. (William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum)

    This afternoon, the President released a statement on the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou – one of the most prolific writers and activists of our time:

    When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that “No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.” 

    Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller – and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya. 

    Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, “flung up to heaven” – and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.


  • West Wing Week 05/23/14 or, “Straight A’s? Whoa!”

    This week, the President spoke on the importance of raising the minimum wage, investing in infrastructure, and bringing jobs and tourism back to America; invited the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks to the White House; and designated a new National Monument. The First Lady honored Brown v. Board of Education, and the Vice President and Dr. Biden traveled to Romania and Cyprus.


  • The First Lady Visits Topeka for Senior Appreciation Day

    On Friday, the First Lady traveled to Topeka, Kansas to celebrate the high school class of 2014 and mark the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Families, friends, teachers, counselors, and elected officials all gathered and packed the 10,000-seat Expocentre to cheer on the students in their caps and gowns and welcome Mrs. Obama to Topeka. The First Lady's words celebrated the students of Topeka, while framing their graduation in the larger context of spreading their experience of diversity and tolerance across the country and across generations.

    Her message was clear: "When you grow up in a place like Topeka, where diversity is all you've ever known, the old prejudices just don't make any sense." The experience and exposure of the Topeka class of 2014 has made them all the richer. Going to school with students of different races, creeds, cultures, and religions has made them understand and appreciate diversity as second nature. Something almost unimaginable in 1954.


  • The First-Ever White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show

    White House Talent Show

    Student performers react to seeing President Barack Obama as he drops by the White House Talent Show hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) May 20, 2014.

    Yesterday was a special one over at the White House. As Honorary Chair of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed student performers from across the country as they took the stage in the East Room for the first-ever White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show. But this wasn't just any talent show. These performances were part of a larger administration effort to leverage art, artists, and significant Department of Education resources to turnaround the nation's worst performing schools.

    The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities partnered with the Department of Education's School Turnaround program to bring the arts to some of our most troubled schools. Because we know that the arts serve to inspire young people to reach higher and that students involved in the arts do better in school and are more likely to enroll and complete college. The results of the Turnaround Arts program has been so successful in these difficult to serve communities that the program will be quadrupling in size. This fall the program will be adding 35 schools in 11 states, and serving over 10,000 students, ensuring they have access to arts education.


  • West Wing Week 05/16/14 or, “Go Solar!”

    This week, the President praised the power of solar, honored this year's TOP COPS, awarded the Medal of Honor and traveled to New York for the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.