A new generation of American children thinks having a black president is no big deal because Barack Obama “is all they’ve ever known,” first lady Michelle Obama told a gathering of black church leaders Thursday.
“They have grown up taking for granted that an African-American can be president of the United States,” Mrs. Obama said at an African Methodist Episcopal Church conference in Nashville, Tenn.
Mrs. Obama urged the audience to keep pressing for gains in civil rights by telling them the story about a photograph hanging in the West Wing of the White House. It depicts a 5-year-old black boy touching the hair of President Obama, who bent over for the boy after the child told Mr. Obama that he wanted to know “if my hair is like yours.” The first lady said it’s the only photograph that has remained hanging in the West Wing throughout Mr. Obama’s presidency.
“If you ever wonder whether change is possible in this country, I want you to think about that little black boy in the Oval Office of the White House touching the head of the first black president,” Mrs. Obama said. “And I want you to think about how children who see that photo today think nothing of it because that is all they’ve ever known.”
Mr. Obama has been president for 3½ years. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in 1945 after more than 12 years in office, many young Americans spoke about the fact that America’s longest-serving president was the only president they had ever known.
Discussing the heroic acts of pioneers of the civil rights movement, Mrs. Obama told the audience, “I know we can finish the journey they started and finally fulfill the promise of our democracy for all our children.”