Tagged: Barack Obama

Hidden Figures: Showcasing the Best of Us. 

As of this writing, Hidden Figures is the number one film in the country!

I am so excited about that. And I remain excited about the film. I can’t wait to see it again!

Unless you’ve been hiding underneath a rock, then you are now familiar with a story that had been quite unfamiliar to most for far too long: The story of the African American women whose computations helped make space flight happen–among them, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson.

Indeed, Johnson was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in November 2015. But at least she is getting some well-earned and long-overdue recognition.

(Take a moment to hear a bit about her journey in her own words below.)

The film doesn’t beat the viewer over the head regarding racism. It doesn’t have to. While showing the tensions of the era and the obvious foot-dragging to delay desegregation (even though the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education regarding school integration) the film shows the more subtle, casual yet no less devastating versions of both racism and sexism. Even still, you get to see these brilliant women as whole people. You see them with their families and at church and with each other.

For me, it’s not just the fact that these brilliant women are lived and worked in Virginia, my home state. Or that they are all members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., of which I am a proud member. (We are 109 years young today!)

The film celebrates the best of us and shows how powerful we are when we work together.

Though we know the late-John Glenn’s story–as an astronaut and as a Senator–we can see once again that he, too, represented the best of us.

Oh, what we can accomplish together when smart, brilliant people are free to innovate, create and solve problems without constraint.

The sky is hardly the limit. As these Alpha Kappa Alpha ladies figured.

Making a Start, and Choosing Strength

The massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was one of 43 shootings that happened on June 12, 2016. It was the 141st mass shooting in the United States this year.

And today marks the ninth time President Obama will visit a community to offer words of comfort in the wake of such unspeakable violence.

Let that sink in for a moment.

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Monday Motivation: Make an Impact!

Today’s Monday Motivation is a quote from Jackie Robinson, a man who fought to desegregate American life–most notably, on the baseball diamond.

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. –Jackie Robinson

Robinson, of course, had quite an impact on many lives in our country, and beyond our shores. And we will be able to learn more about his impact in the new Ken Burns documentary, “Jackie Robinson.” It airs in two parts–tonight and tomorrow–on PBS. The President and First Lady also appear in the documentary.

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Monday Motivation: “Just Keep Movin’.”

OK, so this post is not about a speech or presentation. Nor is it about a Cycle class. But this video is so delightful and inspiring that I was moved to share it here.

Besides, this Monday Motivation is about movement. That’s close enough, is it not?

Courtesy The White House

Virginia McLaurin, at 106 years young, fulfilled a dream–to be able to visit the White House. She did so as part of a Black History Month celebration. At 106, McLaurin most certainly has her own life lessons to teach us, with all that she has seen and experienced.

One lesson she teaches is how to enjoy the moments before us, and to live like we mean it. McLaurin didn’t hold back when she was introduced to the President and First Lady. She savored it. She walked fast. She danced. She displayed more energy and vigor upon meeting the Obamas than some folks who are a quarter of her age.

So my takeaways for the day, and week?

First, we are never old to see our dreams come true.

And second? The secret to long life, according to McLaurin, is to “just keep movin’.” I’m sold!

Michelle Obama: “I wanna be like you when I grow up.”

Virginia McLaurin: “You can.”

We all can–if we just keep movin’.

President Obama’s Statement on the Death of Justice Scalia

ICYMI: President Obama’s statement on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died today in Texas at the age of 79.

(Starts at the 33:40 mark.)

I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone.

They are bigger than any one party; they are about our democracy. They are about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our Founders envisioned. –President Barack Obama

Courtesy The White House

 

 

Feeling the “Fierce Urgency of Now.”

Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last. Fort Hood. Binghamton. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. The Navy Yard. Santa Barbara. Charleston. San Bernardino. Too many. –President Barack Obama

Our country will celebrate Martin Luther King Day, this year on January 18. We speak–almost ritually–about his “I Have a Dream” speech, and his exhortations about the importance of the content of our characters.

But we need to remember Dr. King’s quote about feeling the “fierce urgency of now” about a few issues. Gun safety is one of them.

Few issues elicit such powerful emotion from President Obama like gun safety issues. Little wonder: More than 100,000 Americans are shot each year, and more than 18,000 of them are minors.

Since Congress won’t act to enact sensible gun safety legislation, the President is acting where he can.

View the speech below or read the transcript.

Courtesy PBSNewsHour

… Second Amendment rights are important, but there are other rights that we care about as well. And we have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely –- that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. (Applause.) And that was denied Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. (Applause.) They had rights, too. (Applause.)

Our right to peaceful assembly -– that right was robbed from moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -– those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown. First-graders. And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

The 13th Amendment at 150: From the Depth We Have Climbed.

Frederick Douglass once said: ‘You are not judged by the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed.’

One hundred and fifty years ago, our nation resolved to climb out of the deepest, darkest chapter in American history–the insidious institution of slavery. –Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid

President Obama at the Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the 13th Amendment at the U.S. Capitol. Courtesy whitehouse.gov.

Yesterday, President Barack Obama; House Speaker Paul Ryan and House and Senate leaders (I hope House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was comfortable with his role during the ceremony); members of the Congressional Black Caucus; and other House members, Senators and guests commemorated 150 years since the ratification of the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States. The august ceremony was held, most appropriately, in Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC.

That profound, meaningful and important moment seemed to garner relatively little media attention and comment.

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Monday Motivation, Part 1: Freedom Is More Powerful than Fear.

Welcome to the week.

President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office last night in the wake of last week’s shootings in San Bernardino, California.

Courtesy CNN

My takeaway for today, and this week: Beyond the contours of our foreign and domestic policy (and make no mistake, the issues are as serious as they are complex) we must remember to aspire to our best selves, especially in the face of fear and uncertainty.

Let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear. –President Barack Obama

Veterans Day

Although my schedule has been a bit hectic lately, I am never too busy to say “Thank you!” to veterans–those who have so ably served our country. Veterans are our husband and wives; our moms and dads; our brothers and sisters; and our aunts and uncles. Veterans are our friends, neighbors and co-workers.

This is the day to remember their service, and our opportunity to show honor, pay respect and say thank you. And we can do so in many ways. (By the way: I totally agree with #30 and #45!)

President Obama honors veterans today by proclamation and the speech he delivered at Arlington National Cemetery.

Courtesy C-SPAN

My way has been through interviewing veterans for inclusion into the Veterans History Project. Housed in the Library of Congress, it is a trove of firsthand wartime stories of veterans in their own words. Anyone can choose to collect these stories. All it takes is the time to interview a veteran, a recording device, thoughtful questions and the space to listen to the answers. Collecting these stories is one of the most meaningful things I have ever done, and I can’t wait to create the time to do more.

In what ways can you show your thanks? Don’t feel pressure to come up with all the answers for today.

Think of it as a year-long way to say, “Thank you.” And show by your actions that you mean it.