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Black History Month: The Obamas

Written by Staff

Michelle Obama and daughters, in 2008

On the eve of the 88th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, Michelle Obama stood before a crowd of thousands of her husband’s supporters, but this time, the crowd waved “Michelle” signs and chanted her name.

Her and Barack’s daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, joined her on stage following the rousing speech.

“I stand here today at the cross-currents of that history knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me,” Michelle told a crowd of up to 18,000 that packed the Denver Convention Center.

“All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do, that we must fight for the world as it should be,” she continued.

“That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. That is why I love this country.”

Despite Michelle’s pitch-perfect oratory, she couldn’t help her daughters from stealing a little bit of thunder when they joined her onstage following the speech.

Barack Obama addressed the crowd at the convention via satellite from Kansas City, Mo. praising his wife’s speech.

“Michelle, you were unbelievable, and you also look very cute,” he said. “Malia, Sasha, how do you think Mom did?”

“I think she did good,” Sasha replied. But Sasha stole the show when her father appeared on the screen.

“I love you, daddy,” she shouted at the larger than life image of her father.

In August 2009, President Obama honored Harvey Milk with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama said, “Harvey Bernard Milk dedicated his life to shattering boundaries and challenging assumptions. As one of the first openly gay elected officials in this country, he changed the landscape of opportunity for the nation’s gay community. Throughout his life, he fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction. Before his tragic death in 1978, he wisely noted, ‘Hope will never be silent,’ and called upon Americans to stay true to the guiding principles of equality and justice for all. Harvey Milk’s voice will forever echo in the hearts of all those who carry forward his timeless message.”

In 2010, President Obama signed the law repealing the military ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy

“Yes, we did,” Pres. Obama said. “You know, I am just overwhelmed. This is a very good day; I couldn’t be prouder.”

“No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military — regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance — because they happen to be gay,” the president said. “No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, to serve the country that they love.”

President Obama, in 2011, declared June as LGBT History Month

His announcement came as hundreds of couples lined up at courthouses around Obama’s home state of Illinois on the first day the state recognized civil unions between same-sex partners.

Obama’s address also cited his opposition to anti-gay legislation around the world, such as Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays Bill.’

“Because we recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, my administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system,” he said.

In 2014, at the White House LGBT Pride Reception, President Obama announced he would issue an executive order to protect transgender federal employees from workplace discrimination

“If Congress won’t act, I will. I have directed my staff to prepare an executive order for my signature that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Pres. Obama said at the reception. “And I’ve asked my staff to prepare a second executive order so that federal employees — who are already protected on the basis of sexual orientation — will now formally be protected from discrimination based on gender identity as well.”

President Obama on marriage equality, 2015

“Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times — a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American,” touted Pres. Obama.

“The Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. All people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love. This will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move [to] or even visit another. This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land. Today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds are possible. And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them. Because of all our differences, we are one people, stronger together than we could ever be alone. That’s always been our story.”

President Obama, in 2016, speaks for the victims of the Pulse Massacre

“Foremost in all of our minds has been the loss and the grief felt by the people of Orlando, especially our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” Pres. Obama said. “I visited with the families of many of the victims on Thursday. And one thing I told them is that they’re not alone. The American people and people all over the world are standing with them — and we always will.

“So this past week, I’ve also thought a lot about dads and moms around the country who’ve had to explain to their children what happened in Orlando.” he continued. “Time and again, we’ve observed moments of silence for victims of terror and gun violence. Too often, those moments have been followed by months of silence. By inaction that is simply inexcusable. If we’re going to raise our kids in a safer, more loving world, we need to speak up for it. We need our kids to hear us speak up about the risks guns pose to our communities, and against a status quo that doesn’t make sense. They need to hear us say these things even when those who disagree are loud and are powerful. We need our kids to hear from us why tolerance and equality matter — about the times their absence has scarred our history and how greater understanding will better the future they will inherit. We need our kids to hear our words — and also see us live our own lives with love.”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama offers a passionate appeal for empathy during her first televised interview (2018) since leaving the White House

Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres, who told the wife of President Obama that she felt frightened after a year of political turmoil, Michelle encouraged anxious Americans to tune out the noise.
“We have to be an open-hearted nation, and that’s who we are. And that’s the truth of who we are. We can’t lose sight of that. So, let’s just keep living our lives like that every single day and forget what they’re saying in Washington,” the former first lady said in the interview.

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