First lady turns focus on education
January 15th, 2014
08:23 PM ET
8 years ago

First lady turns focus on education

(CNN)– Fresh back from her extended holiday in Hawaii, Michelle Obama turned her attention to education in underserved communities Wednesday.

The first lady hosted a group of approximately 60 “'education stakeholders” for a White House screening of the film “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete.” The film, which is described as "a coming of age story about two inner-city youth who are left to fend for themselves in the Bronx," was produced by singer-songwriter Alicia Keys.

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Keys told the group, which included youth organizations, high school teachers and counselors, that she was drawn to the complexity of the characters when she read first the script.

"It was so complex and so human and so honest and it mirrored the reality of so many kids in America - kids I know, kids I grew up with," she said. "It made me think of my own childhood, growing up in Hell’s Kitchen and in Harlem in the middle of it all - exposed to every side of the spectrum of possibility."

The film, as described by Keys, is the story of "a young black boy being triumphant through all the faces of the most difficult, harshest realities."

"There is no one who can make it on their own. No one. Not in this whole world. Especially our kids," Keys said. "That's where education comes in - and the access to quality, unbiased education."

Obama, who says the film is one of her favorites, choked up a bit when recalling a scene in the movie.

"He says 'keep fighting cuz there ain't no ceiling for a kid like you. There's no ceiling!' But Mister (one of the characters in the film) says he can't do it alone," the first lady said. "We have to show these kids that they're not doing this alone. That's what we're here for."

In remarks to the press and screening attendees, she made clear that it is a child's responsibility to use their experiences to learn and grow.

"I want these young people to understand that their struggles can actually be a source of strength," she said. "But it is our responsibility to make sure that they have those caring adults in their lives. It's our responsibility to make sure that they have schools that will teach them."

Obama made clear she is going to focus more on education. "For the rest of my time as first lady... I'm going to be doing my very best to promote these efforts," she said, "Three words you are going to hear me say a lot over the next three years: grit, resilience, courage."

Thursday, Obama will join the President for a White House summit of university presidents. According to the first lady, they will be challenged to "recruit and support even more underserved young students at their schools."

"We have to keep fighting because these kids are worth it," she said.

Filed under: Education • Michelle Obama
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Ddtgwt

    LOL, she doesn't care if she spends 800,000 dollars on her 'extra week' in Hawaii , which by the way would put many kids thru college, but tears up over a scene in a movie. Give me a break.

    January 15, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  2. tess

    just another affirmative action program being shoved down our throats by the penultimate 'welfare, affirmative action' moochers in the white house!

    January 15, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  3. Name Uche Agonsi

    Whaaooh ! .... Education sure touches the base....but the politics of Education ? Nothing comes that easy these days with US Congress.,...there is no free lunch any more even in the "Free World" . Is either things are compromised ( by a denial or more to the poor ) or is seen as socialism. There is also a no-holds-bare hate politics. The problem is real, but the solution, even when easy to see, does come just like Moses and the promised land....... Vote out these GOPers to free this hold. 2014 is the year.

    January 16, 2014 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  4. Smiotty

    OOOh GOOOdy, her lunch school thing worked out so well. Just stay home, she has no idea (like all the D.C. Dingleberrys) how to operate any thing with any success. Don't waste the funds.

    January 16, 2014 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Education is 1st. But children also need to know that somebody cares about them. The break down of the family unit has really been hard on the youth .boys are not being tought how to be men because no 'real men' Are around. I really believe that most liberals heart is in the right place. But they must deal with their base.

    January 16, 2014 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  6. Marie MD

    Michelle Obama is one of the most hands on first ladies ever.
    She is NOT afraid to get her hands dirty in his vegetable garden or help veteran families. She runs the gamut. She doesn't just sit in the WH planning Hollywood parties like nancy did.

    January 16, 2014 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  7. SirDelvin

    Great job Flotus and Lady Keys.....very very important! And just maybe you all can use recent college grads in your efforts... closest to the well!

    January 16, 2014 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  8. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Its all media miseducation.Although there are a few exceptions,a young poor person will likely seek his or her "proper place" according to the stereotype. many who are part of the underclass in impoverished and gang controlled areas will join the gang bangers. young poor children must learn to dream big.

    January 16, 2014 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  9. BeenThereDoneThat

    The GOP APPLAUDED Dubya re "No Child Left Behind" years ago. Wonder if those SAME folks will ATTACK the First Lady now?

    January 16, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |