The Path of Totality


Once in a lifetime events don’t land at your front door every year.  A total solar eclipse occurs approximately every 18 months somewhere around the globe.  Today various cities in South Carolina were in the direct path of totality.  The path of totality is where an eclipse is at 100% coverage.

There are a number of friends that held events today.  I decided to attend an eclipse viewing party of a friend who enjoys meteorology and astronomy.  He had a number of friends over for what turned into an amazing afternoon.

Prior to the beginning of the eclipse, wearing our verified certified glasses we looked at the sun.  Never having looked directly at the sun it was amazing to see the orange glow.  No one looked for a long period but just enough every so often.

One of the most notable changes was within the hot & humid temperatures.  We physically felt the lowering of the temperature during the start of the eclipse.  On a regular basis we donned our glasses and would look to see the moon passing in front of the path of the sun.  During the time right before totality with glasses you could view, the diamond ring and the effect of Bailey’s beads.

Leading up to the eclipse including the transition of temperature and shadow were awe inspiring.  However, the start of the moment was when you were able to remove your eclipse glasses and view one of the most amazing moments in the universe.  Seeing the total eclipse and the corona effect from the sun was a WOW moment for all watching.  In addition looking to the left we were able to view the planet Venus…for a few minutes I felt like a little kid.

Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, you cannot ignore the amazing moment today when the moon passed in the path of the sun.  Where I stood I had 2 minutes and 36 seconds to view the total eclipse.  It seems just as amazing as when the eclipse began it ended with the sun taking back her reign again.  Tonight is a new moon and earlier today that moon showed she too demands respect.  Thank you moon, thank you sun, and thank you amazing universe.

Check out the photos taken by party host Chris McCurry using solar filters and a Pringle’s potato chip can to capture the historic moments throughout the day.

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Fun & Festive Food for a Solar Event! Photo credit: J. Rose-Harris

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Camera is set to go! Photo credit: J. Rose-Harris

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Ready to see the sun and the moon kiss! Photo Credit: J. Rose-Harris

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The beginning… Photo credit: C. McCurry

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Almost at totality! Photo credit: C. McCurry

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Diamond ring and Bailey’s beads. Photo credit: C. McCurry

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WOW! The corona glow! Photo credit: C. McCurry

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A proud moment! Photo credit: J. Rose-Harris

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Hate Consumes


nohatebigWhen a U.S. President doesn’t condemn hate they are condoning it.  Riding the fence by trying not to offend any racially motivated hate groups should not be acceptable.  This is also true for those who commit hate acts based on sexual orientation, religion, or gender.  Let me be clear that cultural pride is understandable but hate of another ethnic, gender, religious group is unacceptable.

Racial injustice and division in the United States have existed since the emancipation proclamation with the freedom of enslaved Blacks.  Actually, during reconstruction the recently emancipated Black population thrived.  It was only when it was noticed that those formerly enslaved were being elected and successful did the rise of the white supremacy groups begin.  Because of fear these groups have risen and now it seems have the ear of the President of the United States.

Hate is never the answer.  And hate is born from fear.  Fear is created through lack of knowledge.  In Southern states there is the desire to hold onto the memories from the Civil War.  An act of war which was actually a treasonous act against the United States.  All for the primary purpose of retaining the right to own slave labor by Southern plantations.  The idea of states’ rights is hiding behind the truth.

Ironically the Civil War was a wealthy man’s war.  A war not fought by the plantation owners and their sons but by sharecroppers and overseers and their families.  And even the sons of those enslaved.  Today in the 21st century, if those who are marching and supporting white supremacy, were to educate themselves they would understand this fact.  Their families had no benefit from the Civil War and the heritage that they so desperately want to hold onto.  Upon completion of the war the Confederate Generals understood and accepted their defeat; otherwise they would have been executed due to treason.

I have remained fairly silent regarding various events recently in the news.  This includes incidents with law enforcement using excessive force; and then not going to trial or being found not guilty of a crime.  Today at my church the associate pastor who happens to be White made it clear that it is our Christian duty to speak out against racism, bigotry and injustice as a whole.  And if we don’t then who will and how then are we Christian?  This gave me the courage to write this blog post.

Yesterday, in Charlottesville, VA a woman who happened to be White was killed and 19 others injured when a 20-year-old white nationalist drove into the crowd of anti-hate protestors.  I don’t know if this incident will change the mindset of the 45th U.S. President or his administration seeing that he has members of the alt-right within his cabinet and advisors.  I do hope it will wake up those Americans you have been passive about the hate that is boiling up in this nation.

Finally, I have no desire to stop anyone’s freedom of speech.  But I will not condone freedom to hate or act on hate.  Hate consumes and eats all that is in its path.  When you sit and watch the fire of hate rising and consuming you are just as guilty as those who carry the torch and march.  I believe there are more citizens who believe in compassion, kindness, empathy, love, and respect them intolerance and hate.  Remember that light removes darkness…let your light of hope and justice shine.

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An Accidental Day


I’m somewhat of a planner not every day but most days.  I don’t have a set in stone daily routine or plans but a general outline in my head of my day.  My days are pretty consistent there is my morning routine, work routine, and evening routine.  Then I sleep and repeat just as most people.  Some days during the week there is a switch up.

Sunday was one of those days that I had planned out.  Regular morning worship, then stopping for a cool cup of Italian ice, then stop to see an art exhibit at my local art museum, then buy something for a pot luck poetry workshop.  Morning worship received a completed check mark and so did buying Italian ice.

I entered the Columbia Museum of Art to view the “Enduring Spirit” exhibit by Tyrone Geter.  I wove through the Salvador Dali exhibit titled “Fantastical Fairy Tales”, which I had seen but was packed since yesterday was the exhibits last day.  Entering the gallery space that contained Mr. Geter’s work, I was drawn to one particular piece titled “Homeless in the Promised Land.”  I was mostly pulled in by the message which was derived from Trump’s “Make America Great Again” theme.  The figures depicted did not appear to be doing well and it showed an America that has always existed with poor and homeless regardless of race.

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“Homeless in the Promised Land” by Tyrone Geter, 2016

“Homeless in the Promised Land” is a multi-media and multi-layered piece of art.  Complex in messaging and depicting magnetic figures.  A Trump supporter, a homeless woman, and a homeless man.  There is a collage inspired 3-D effect of a blanket with a unique pattern.  Hidden in the piece is messaging that makes it clear Trump’s political rhetoric does not address the simple truth of those depicted.  Food, clothing and shelter are their most urgent need.

Stepping away from the piece, I was told by the security guard the artist was in the building.  The best part was he would be giving a gallery talk at 2pm.  I immediately was conflicted because I had a poetry workshop at 2pm.  However, how often do you get to hear a shy artist speak about his work?  I quickly updated the Facebook event for the poetry workshop to “can’t attend” along with a quick status comment.

Trying to confirm where the talk would occur, I went to the information desk to ask.  To my surprise standing next to the desk was Mr. Geter, the artist himself.  A kind elderly gentleman who had just learned he was speaking.  While standing and chatting with Mr. Geter, a museum employee approached responsible for a renovation space tour for visitors from another museum.  The best part was I was invited to tag along.  There definitely are perks to being a dedicated museum member and volunteer.

Tyrone Geter, Artist of "Enduring Spirit"

Tyrone Geter, Artist of “Enduring Spirit” Exhibition

Both the tour and gallery talk did not disappoint.  Along with members from the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC I heard about detail of upcoming renovations and expansion of gallery spaces.  The cherry on top was the gallery talk by Mr. Geter in front of his artwork.  Learning of his history and the determination of his mother who only had a 3rd grade education was inspiring.  However, above all was to hear the various muses and motivations behind his artwork.

"My Beauty is Not My Beast" by Tyrone Geter, 2016

“My Beauty is Not My Beast” by Tyrone Geter, 2016

 

Mr. Geter indicated the ultimate goal was to emotionally move those who view his work and tell a story.  His goal is definitely met with the “Enduring Spirit” exhibit.  The exhibit will be at the Columbia Museum of Art until June 11th.  The CMA is a winner of the 2016 National Medal for Institute of Museum & Library Service.  Thought provoking and current as well as historical art collections is one reason for visiting the award winning museum.  Even with renovations in the permanent galleries there is still plenty to see.  The National Medal was awarded to the CMA, primarily for its impact to the surrounding community and it does that with outreach to various youth orientated programming.

I know if you visit the Columbia Museum of Art and check out the “Enduring Spirit” exhibit you’ll love them as much as I do.  And you just may have a great accidental day as well.

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My Spiritual Journey


Yesterday, was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season for Christians worldwide.  Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran and various other denominations have a service where priest or pastors impose ashes in a form of a cross on parishioner’s foreheads.  The imposition of ashes mean many things but personally to me it is a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Just in December Christians celebrated the birth of Christ.  And each year depending upon when Easter Sunday is determined we begin the celebration of Lent as early as February.  Quite simply Easter Sunday is determined to be the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the spring equinox.  Yes, I know it had me scratching my head too!

img_8905For me the holiest of times is Easter because it is the reason for which Jesus Christ was born.  That is correct he was born to ultimately die for our sins.  I know it is heady stuff but it is the foundation of the Christian faith.  After a three-year spiritual journey, I chose to convert to Lutheranism and joined a Lutheran church last October.  This was after much soul searching and attending various churches with my husband, friends and solo.  Ultimately what lead me to the Lutheran faith was their doctrine which follows my beliefs.

I will not get into the details but I will say that each of us had to have our own faith walk.  I know many people of varying faiths.  Those who are even atheists and agnostics.  I know people of Muslim faith, my husband is Catholic and yes I am Protestant and have always been.  I know Methodist and even Buddhist.  Part of what lead me to Lutheran faith is it embraces those who believe otherwise and does not choose to condemn.

Looping back to the point of this post, I feel most serene and focused during the Lenten Season.  It is a time to reflect on the sacrifice that was made for us by Jesus Christ.  I am not a theologian and will not get into a discussion of various faiths and their validity.  I will say for me personally repenting by sacrificing something or like my husband collecting change to give to a charity cleanses our spirit.

In addition to the closeness I feel to God.  I also reflect on the life of my late mother.  She also enjoyed this time of year.  My mom made angel wings for her church’s Easter program and they are still being used some six years later.  When I was a child we enjoyed dying eggs in all fun swirling colors.  And I always received a fun Easter basket. Shopping for a new dress and shiny shoes was an adventure.  My mom died a few days prior to Palm Sunday and I chose to have her funeral service on Good Friday of that year.  It seemed only fitting for a woman who was humble and a servant of God.

Finally, I am looking forward to see where this year’s Lenten journey leads me. I have decided that the book “The Purpose Driven Life” is not something I need to read.  For the last few years I have tried reading, thinking that I would get a big reveal of what my life should be.  But I realize that listening to God and following the direction he pushes me toward, I am living my purpose.  Though I have found a new church home my spiritual journey continues and will do so until my final breath.

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Civil Liberties At Risk


images-2During the first 9 days of the 45th U.S. President’s Administration the White House website indicates 5 Executive Orders and 10 Memorandums but there are many more that are not yet posted on the site.  The most recent and controversial Executive Order is titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.”  The primary purpose of the Executive Order, is to bar all people from “terror-prone” countries from entering the United States for 90 days and it also suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.

A Muslim based ban which I believe to be a ban based on religion is unconstitutional and should be questioned. Families and individuals who have legally lived in the United States with green cards are being detained for 90 days if currently traveling outside the U.S. People who have jobs or are attending school cannot gain entry back into the country where they give back to society. Mind you these are people who don’t necessarily identify as Muslim but can be Christians or of other faiths. They are impacted merely because of their native country. This is authoritarian behavior by the current Presidential Administration.

Upon signing of this order chaos ensued around the world.  This impacted not merely the nations listed in the order, which are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, but individuals who may be traveling from other countries.  In order to put in place campaign promises this current Presidential Administration is becoming more authoritative and less democratic with the signing of the numerous Executive Orders and Memorandums.  With the chaos ensuing at airports it is obvious that this very controversial order restricting entry of people from countries deemed as Muslim was not properly vetted.

As a U.S. Citizen it greatly concerns me to have restrictions based on religion.  I do not believe this to be within the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution.  America is a nation of immigrants and on their backs a great nation has been formed.  A nation with a President who is pushing the boundary of civil liberties requires all those that believe in the democratic process to speak up!  In the nation where democracy was born it is imperative that we the American people give our voice.  If you like me are opposed to this controversial Executive Order it is important to contact your representatives in Congress and the Senate regardless of the their political party. Yes it matters and now is the time to call or write members of Congress go to house.gov or senate.gov to find contact information. I have contacted Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; Congressman James Clyburn; Senator Lindsey Graham; and Senator Tim Scott just as a start.

Finally, we also must keep an eye on legislation being drafted within Congress. While many of the Executive Orders signed by the 45th President are detrimental, what a Republican Congress is doing may be just as restrictive. Find sources like C-Span and other sites to watch &  understand the legislation being drafted and give your input.  Those of us with a conscious must speak up and push back when civil liberty of others and not only ourselves are at risk. Staying silent is not an option. We see what only one week of the 45th President’s Administration has brought.  I’m greatly concerned about the destruction of democracy and I hope you are as well.  Remember democracy includes the voice of citizens and not merely political leaders, give your voice to the process.

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Democracy Is Delicate


Tomorrow, January 20, 2017 a transition of power will take place in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC.  The 58th Presidential Inauguration will take place when the President-Elect will take the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States.  It is this peaceful transition of power that has occurred for centuries that identifies the United States as the birthplace of democracy.

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Meeting of U.S. President-Elect Trump with U.S. President Obama

Democracy is how Donald J. Trump a businessman was elected.  In simplest form democracy is when the citizens or group of a nation or organization seek to elect the people who represent them.  However, even within a democracy things can go wrong and the foundation can shift.  It is of my concern that the President-Elect will cause cracks within the foundation of democracy.  Due to lack of any governmental experience by Trump and those of his Senior Staff selections, I am greatly concerned.

Private and public sectors are unique and managed differently for various reasons.  The idea that the soon to be 45th President’s sons can run his businesses and there not be a conflict of interest is ludicrous.  His behavior during the Presidential election cycle and past behavior is deplorable.  And most recently the continuous juvenile tweets sent in response to anyone who disagrees with him are pitiful.  I often wonder if at his advanced age of 70 might there be some mental issue?  However, not releasing his medical records details cannot be known.

On Saturday, I with women from around the state of South Carolina will meet for a Women’s Rally at the State House.  This corresponds with the Women’s March on Washington that will bring women from around the United States to the nation’s capital to in part show their displeasure with Trump.  Upon completion of the rally in South Carolina there will be a summit to discuss how to be active during a Trump Administration.

The four key elements of democracy can survive but only with citizens staying aware.  These elements are 1) political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections, 2) active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life, 3) protection of the human rights of all citizens, and 4) rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.  If any of these components are threatened then the democratic structure can form cracks.

I am overall an optimist but I am also a realist and I believe the next four years will be rocky for the United States.  However, I do know that I will be active within my local Democratic Party and community ensuring I do all necessary to be sure hard fought freedoms are kept intact.  I must be honest I do not trust that the 45th President will be able to keep the many false promises that he has made on the campaign trail.  I believe time will prove all those who do not have faith in his ability will be proven right.

The division of three main parts of the federal government executive, legislative, and judicial will in part help to possible refrain the overreach of the next President.  But only if the legislative and judicial branches are firm and ethical in their decisions.  Many believed that President Obama over reached with his authority via Executive Orders, however, this was by a man who was a U.S. Constitutional Law professor.  With legal experience and prior legislative experience Obama was able to give insight into the office and understand the impact of laws of society.  We can all agree that the Affordable Care Act had issues that needed adjustment but for it to be fully repealed is not best for U.S. citizens.

Finally, I want end on a positive note listing some of the accomplishments made by the 44th President.  I will miss President Obama because I believe that he cared about the duties of the office of President much more than he cared about self.  Here are some of the many things that were done over the last eight years.  Note that on Friday, January 20th the new twitter handles for the Obamas will be @BarackObama and @MichelleObama; in addition, ObamaWhiteHouse.gov will contain the information that is now found on the WhiteHouse.gov specific to the Obama’s.  Now for the list:

Economic Depression Averted

Longest Streak of Job Growth on Record

11 Million New Jobs Created

20 Million More Americans Insured

Deficit Cut by Over $800 Billion

Exports Up by 28 Percent

Corporate Profits Up by 144 Percent

Stock Market Nearly Tripled

Middle Class Tax Cuts Preserved

American Auto Industry Saved

Wall Street Reform Enacted

Oil & Natural Gas Production at All Time High

Solar & Wind Power at All Time High

Reliance on Foreign Oil at 40 Year Low

Graduation Rates at All Time High

No Child Left Behind Replaced

Pell Grants Doubled

New Federal Student Loan Payment Plan

New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

New Mortgage Refinance Program

New Patient’s Bill of Rights

Newly Protected Lands & Waters

New Limits on Carbon Pollution

New Arms Control in Russia & Syria

Iranian Nuclear Program Curtailed

U.S. Cuba Diplomacy Restored

Torture Banned

Osama bin Laden Taken Down

U.S. Boots in Iraq & Afghanistan Reduced

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repealed

Education & Job Opportunities for Veterans

Healthcare for 9/11 Heroes

Equal Benefits for Married Gay Couples

Deferred Action for DREAMers

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act

21st Century Cures Act

Veteran Homelessness Down

Abortion Down

Illegal Immigration Down

Violent Crime Down

Net Neutrality Protected

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Why I Love The Obamas


There have been 43 White men as U.S. President.  President Obama finally broke up the club of whiteness and added some diversity.  He is truly in all aspects of the term African-American; since he was born to a White mother from the Midwest and an African father from Kenya.  When running for office there was a dichotomy of opinion whether he was Black enough or if he was too Black.  Some wondered would the White House now become the Black House?  During all the negative rhetoric I watched not with despair but with pride to see a Black man take the oath of office to become the 44th U.S. President.  Wait, let me correct, I listened while on Pennsylvania Avenue standing in Freedom Plaza along the Inauguration Parade route just around the corner from the White House on January 20, 2009.

My journey began way back with the Obamas in 1996, when as a Clinton-Gore volunteer, I was tasked with phone banking and making down ticket calls for Barack Obama.  I didn’t know much about him except he had done organizing within his community.  He was a lawyer at that point having graduated from Harvard Law School.  He also taught constitutional law these were snippets of information provided over the course of the ’96 campaign.  It was a joyous time when on November 5, 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore were re-elected and Barack Obama won his first election for the Illinois State Senate.  During the Victory Party at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, getting my first hugs from Senator-elect Obama and his wife Michelle was heart-warming, yes they’ve always been huggers.

I relocated in 1997 to South Carolina, so Barack Obama was my Senator only for a short while.  However, I watched with pride when he was introduced to the world at the 2004 Democratic National Convention during the speech heard around the globe.  The most recognized part of the speech is:

“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

However, one of my favorite parts of the speech is:

“If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.  If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.  If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.”

After hearing this phenomenal speech everyone wanted to know who is this State Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate?  I already knew and watched from that point waiting for the moment for when he would run for U.S. President.  It wasn’t a question of if but when.

Following many rumors in February 2007, in Springfield, Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama announced his run for U.S. President.  Among other U.S. Senators running were Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  In May 2007, I stopped by the South Carolina Obama Campaign Headquarters in Columbia, SC located on the corner of Calhoun and Assembly streets and began my volunteer efforts.  Starting off doing phone banking I knew my talent was better used in other capacities.  And over time soon became what I am known best as Data Goddess.  The Obama Campaign recreated how data as well as digital media was used during a campaign.  He created via his experience of community organizing a new mold for how to run a Presidential campaign.  With the blowout win of the South Carolina Presidential Democratic Primary, Obama and not Clinton became the candidate to beat.

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Taken by Staff Photographer in Manning, SC – November 2007

Upon becoming elected as the 44th President even during a campaign where rocks and stones were thrown his way, he pushed for an agenda passionate to him.  Unlike any other President before him his cabinet was filled with powerful and capable women.  Showing the importance of women, the first piece of legislation he signed was the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act Bill.”  Over the last 8 years, President Obama has signed approximately 1,350 pieces of legislation into law.  His most famous and the piece of legislation marked for repeal by the 115th U.S. Congress is The Affordable Care Act.  Coming into the White House with a dysfunctional banking system and an auto industry near bankruptcy he made tough decisions in bailing both out with federal assistance.  Even when detractors thought this was not the better solution but time has shown it was the best solution.

There are far too many things to list regarding why I have such admiration for the Obama Administration.  However, I most respect the humanness of the President.  During addresses after shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT and last year at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida we saw a very human and compassionate President.  We also saw this when speaking about the killing of Trayvon Martin and during the numerous addresses made upon unjustified shooting of Black men and women by law enforcement across the nation.  It is the humanness, dignity, and intelligence that I most admire about President Obama.

With the incoming 45th President, I am greatly concerned about the openness and dignity that President Obama brought to the White House.  I do not have confidence in the leadership to come this is based on the vitriol hate displayed during the 2016 Presidential campaign by the Republican Presidential nominee.  I admit I am a staunch liberal and a leader within the South Carolina Democratic Party, so to many of course I admire and support President Obama.  However, I am fair and try not to pre-judge but what I have seen thus far from the U.S. President-Elect does not give me great confidence in the next four years.  I do not see an inclusive or diverse White House or one open to the public in the way the Obama Administration engaged the public.

I admit as a Black woman I have watched with pride the initiatives put in place by First Lady Michelle Obama.  She has worked for military families to getting young people moving and eating healthy to fighting for girls right to education around the globe.  Being a part of history also puts a smile in my heart.  On June 1, 2016, on behalf of the Columbia Museum of Art as their Community Member, I attended the ceremony and reception for 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  It was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House.  And to the surprise of us all while in the Blue Room we saw Marine One land and take off on the White House lawn!  This opportunity seemed to be a full circle moment from when I first met the Obama’s in Chicago, Illinois.

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2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Program

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Karen Brosius, Michelle Obama, Joyce Rose-Harris – White House East Room           June 2016

Finally, I say thank you President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for your leadership and dedication to the American people.  Seeing a Black couple occupy the White House makes me proud not merely because they are Black but because they worked hard to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  There was no silver spoon for them during their childhoods but there was the knowledge of how important it is to get an education and then to uplift their communities.  I will miss the weekly addresses by President Obama and the many initiatives of First Lady Obama but I know now they will take their work to Chicago, Illinois in a year or so, putting their knowledge and activism in the Obama Presidential Library and Center.  I know there is much more awesome things to come for the Obama family.  Thank you President and First Lady Obama for showing citizens of the United States and the world how to rise higher.

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