President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama (C) and their daughter Malia (2nd-L)
President Obama playfully shushes himself as he greets the librarian
A paper-collage of first lady Michelle Obama hangs on a wall at the Browne Education Campus
President Obama participates in a community service project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Browne Education Campus in Washington
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., FEDERAL HOLIDAY, 2012
- – - – - – -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On a hot summer day nearly half a century ago, an African American preacher with no official title or rank gave voice to our Nation’s deepest aspirations, sharing his dream of an America that ensured the true equality of all our people. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a movement that would push our country toward a more perfect Union.
At a time when our Nation was sharply divided, Dr. King called on a generation of Americans to be “voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion.” His example stirred men and women of all backgrounds to become foot soldiers for justice, and his leadership gave them the courage to refuse the limitations of the day and fight for the prospect of tomorrow. Because these individuals showed the resilience to stand firm in the face of the fiercest resistance, we are the benefactors of an extraordinary legacy of progress.
First lady Michelle Obama greets Army Sgt. Johnny Agbi with Jill Biden during a Joining Forces initiative event in Washington. Sears, Rebuilding Together and volunteers will complete the retrofit on Sgt. Agbi’s home to make it wheelchair accessible. Sgt. Agbi was injured while serving in Afghanistan
First lady Michelle Obama paints in the home of Army Sgt. Johnny Agbi
President Barack Obama, Ruby Bridges, and representatives of the Norman Rockwell Museum view Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With,” hanging in a West Wing hallway near the Oval Office, July 15, 2011. Bridges is the girl portrayed in the painting. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
AOL (2010): When Ruby Bridges arrived for her first day at William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans 50 years ago, she thought it was Mardi Gras. People lined the streets, shouting and throwing things – just like a Carnival parade. But these people weren’t celebrating.
At 6 years old, Bridges had been unwittingly thrust onto the grand stage of American history. Her parents had volunteered her to be the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South. Local law enforcement refused to protect her from the unruly mobs that surrounded her school, so every day she was escorted by four federal marshals – the scene immortalized by Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Problem We All Live With.”
That first day, all the parents had rushed into the building and taken their kids out — effectively boycotting the school. The school didn’t quite know what to do; Ruby was told to just sit in the principal’s office until it was time to go home.
“I remember thinking, ‘This school is easy,’” Bridges told AOL News.
Since then, Bridges grew up, raised four sons and worked as a travel agent before returning to a career as an educational activist that she had started at such a young age. But while her educational career eventually subsided into a normal New Orleans childhood – albeit one charged by forced integration – those exceptional first days in school had shaped her for life.