Fw: In-town pool report #3: Black History Month reception

From: Eilperin, Juliet [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2016 05:28 PM
To: Gabriel, Brian
Subject: In-town pool report #3: Black History Month reception

The White House reception for Black History Month was in full swing in the East Room when the pool was ushered in to observe it. Some of the guests included two of the Braxton sisters, a family singing ensemble, as well as the Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, who is 91 and worked with King when he was alive. There was an open bar, serving champagne and other beverages, and the appetizers included sliders as well as an assortment of Asian fusion offerings.

Ar 4:49 p.m. there was a very brief video of Obama reflecting on his time in office, where he said, “If you believe in something, chase it, work on it.”

At 4:50 pm, Obama entered the room with the first lady. It was almost impossible to see either the president and his wife, because the entire crowd was standing and holding their phones aloft the entire time. However, the first lady appeared to be wearing a white dress with gold embellishments.

Please check the following quotes against the transcript.

The crowd was pretty boisterous, and continued making noise even after the president began speaking. “Now come on, ya’ll, I’m only going to be a second,” he chastised them, at which point everyone was fairly quiet except for a crying baby. “Except for that little guy,” Obama added. “He’s hungry.”

Obama started out by thanking the assembled guests. “For the past seven years, everybody in this room have been incredible supporters of me and Michelle,” he said. “I just want to start out by saying thank you.”

He emphasized that Black History Month should be seen as “a compilation of greatest hits” that includes the March on Washington and a series of feats by African American sports figures.

“Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history,” he said. “This should be more than just a commemoration of particular events.”

“It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can take a better look at the future,” Obama added.

Obama praised young civil rights activists, as he had earlier in the Roosevelt Room. “They are participants making history. It’s alive,” he said. “So I want to give a special shout out to the young people here today… And that’s the thing about our democracy: it takes all of us.”

When Obama continued, “Supreme Court appointments are important,” the crowd cheered. “But ultimately everything comes down to the constant perseverance… of citizens like you.”

The president, who spoke for about 10 minutes, then worked the rope line before departing.

Thanks to AP’s Darlene Superville for assistance with transcription, and for America Urban Radio Neworks’ April Ryan—who was working the room as a guest rather than working—for help with guest spotting.

Juliet Eilperin
White House Bureau Chief
Washington Post
(O) xxx-xxx-xxxx
(C) xxx-xxx-xxxx

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