First Lady hosts spouses of visiting heads of states in New York
Newscast Media NEW YORK—In hosting the spouses of chiefs of state and heads of government participating in the United Nations General Assembly, First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged her guests to talk to each other about the work they are doing in their countries on behalf of children.
“We all have so much to offer one another, and so much to learn, and so much support we can gain from each other,” Obama told nearly 50 spouses at the September 24 event at the Studio Museum in Harlem, a neighborhood of New York City.
“Our young people will soon be leading the way,” she said. “They will soon be building the businesses, and making the scientific discoveries, and writing the laws that will move our world forward for decades to come.”
Obama said that in traveling around the world, she has met many girls “with so much promise, girls eager and desperate to learn, girls who just blossom when they get that one chance to go to school and to start scratching at the fulfillment of their potential.”
She added that “when both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to learn, we all know that’s not just good for our children, it’s also good for their families and it’s good for their countries as well.”
The First Lady talked about the history of Harlem and about its place in American history. She called the New York neighborhood “quintessentially American.” She described how Harlem, as home to many African-American writers, artists and musicians in the early 20th century who depicted black subjects, was “the cultural heart of the African-American community.”
She added that these artists’ influence was felt beyond America. Jazz musicians Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong played on stages in Europe. Aaron Douglas’ artwork was viewed around the world. And young people worldwide have been inspired by the words of poet Langston Hughes, including “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
At the museum, the spouses viewed an exhibition of works by American artist Robert Pruitt that “highlight the strength and dignity of women,” as the first lady described them.
The event also featured young performers from the Dance Theatre of Harlem, music from LaGuardia Arts High School, and award-winning vocalist Audra McDonald. Each guest received a jar of White House honey butter made with fresh honey from the White House beehive; two jars of White House–produced honey; a custom pewter honey pot made by Salisbury Pewter, a Maryland company; lemon verbena grown in
the White House herb garden and used to create the aromatic tea sachets; and a cookbook, New American Table.