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tv   The Presidency First Ladies in Their Own Words - Michelle Obama  CSPAN  April 18, 2022 4:37pm-5:21pm EDT

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here, or anywhere that matters, america is watching on c-span. powered by cable. and i am >> watch all the winning student cam documentaries any time on line at student i am so excited to be introducing our amazing first lady, michelle obama. [ cheers and applause ]
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>> hey there. you guys are pretty fired up, right? i like that. i like that. if people wonder, yes, hillary clinton is my friend. she's been a friend to me and barack and malia and sasha and bill and chelsea have been embracing and supportive from the very day my husband took the oath of office. now you may have noticed that i have been doing some campaigning for hillary. i know that there's some folks out there who have commented that it's been unprecedented for
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a sitting first lady to be so actively engaged in a presidential campaign, and that may be true, but what's also true is that this is truly an unprecedented election. that's why i'm out here. i'm out here first and foremost because we have never had a more qualified and prepared candidate for president than our friend hillary clinton. never before in our lifetime. i say this everywhere i go, i admire and respect hillary. she's been a lawyer, a law professor, first lady of arkansas, first lady of united states, a u.s. senator, secretary of state. she has --
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>> that was michelle obama. a popular sitting first lady campaigning in 2016 for a former first lady turned presidential candidate. a lawyer, mother of two young daughters, and the first african-american first lady, you'll hear in her own voice here on american history tv how she experienced her eight years in the white house. from video footage in the c-span video library. first you'll hear from michelle obama in 2009, a c-span interview in her first year in the white house. she talks about how she sees the role of first lady and how she expected to grow in the job. >> i think every first lady brings their unique perspective to this job. if you didn't, you couldn't live through it. i think to the extent that this feels natural to me at any level -- and i would have never thought living in the white house and being first lady would feel natural. it's because i try to make it me.
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i try to bring a little bit of michelle obama into this, but at the same time respecting and valuing the tradition that is america's. but i think it is all an evolutionary process. you grow into this role and my sense is that do you never get comfortable if you're always pushing for change and growth, not just in yourself but the issues you care about. you're never done. there's never a time that you feel like there, i'm now here and i can do this the same way all the time. it's always changing. it changes given the state of the issues of the country. you never know what those will be from one day to the next. you have to be flexible and fluid and open to evolve. >> this american history tv. you are listening to michelle obama in her own words. just a month after moving into the white house she hosted children in east room. an event marking african-american history month.
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>> hello. welcome to the white house. how are you guys doing? >> fine. >> that's good. it's good to see you all. i heard you've all been quiet as mice. you been behaving in here? is it exciting? it's exciting. isn't this a beautiful house? >> yes. >> we are so, so very proud and happy to have you here. we were all very much kids like you guys. we just figured out that one day that our fate was in our own hands. we made decisions to listen to our parents and to our teachers and to work very, very hard for everything in life. and then we worked even harder.
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any time anybody ever doubted us. as president and first lady, barack and i are just the caretakers of this white house. we are just living here for a little bit. but while we live here, we are your neighbors. and we want you to feel welcome here at the white house. which really is -- as the admiral said, it's the people's house. it belongs to all of us. just remember that, okay? as the people's house, we believe the white house should be a place for learning and for sharing new and different ideas. sharing new forms of art and culture and history and different perspectives. we want you to visit and take advantage of these opportunities and maybe see something for yourselves that maybe you never thought you could do or be. i'm happy to welcome you here for our little black history month celebration. i'm glad you guys are here. so many milestones in black history have touched this very house.
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just to name a few, did you know that african-american slaves helped to build this house? you knew that. did you know that right upstairs in a bedroom called the lincoln bedroom, president lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation that marked an important step forward in ending slavery. did you know that happened here? you knew that. did you know in 1878, rutherford b. hayes was president at the time and marie sellka became the first african american soprano to perform here. did you know that? i didn't know. did you know that in the '60s martin luther king and other civil rights leaders met here with president johnson to debate
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an ends to segregation. did you know that? >> yes. >> you are yawning. wake up! just kidding. and of course who lives here now? president obama. and he's making history every single day. why? why? >> first african american president of the united states. >> that's correct. would you like to stand? you want to say that one more time. >> first african-american president of the united states. >> very good. [ applause ] very good. >> this is american history tv and you're listening to michelle obama in her own words. african-american history and the challenges and accomplishments of black americans were themes the first lady returned to often. in 2013, she hosted the cast and crew of the movie "42" about jackie robinson who broke the
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color barrier in major league baseball. >> we watched the movie over the weekend. it was just us because our girls were away. they are definitely going to watch this movie. we think everybody in this country needs to watch this movie. i can say with all sincerity that it was truly powerful for us. i don't know about you, but we walked away from that physically moved by the experience of the movie of the story. it wasn't simply the wonderful performances because the performances were brilliant. brilliant. i mean, i'm no movie critic but you're all pretty good. pretty good. it wasn't the wonderful screen writing or the directing. it was the raw emotion that it just makes you feel after the experience. watching anyone go through what jaky and rachel robinson did, the outright discrimination that
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they experienced at every turn, every turn. the fans in the stadium to the airport receptionist, even from some of his own teammates. you are left just asking yourselves how on earth did they live through that? how did they do it? how did they endure the taunts and the bigotry for all of that time? while so many in this country still face clear challenges, they still exist today. i was struck by how far removed that way of life seems today. i mean, there's work to be done but things have changed. major league baseball is fully integrated. you can't imagine the baseball league not being integrated. there's no more whites only signs posted anywhere in this country. although it still happens. it's far less acceptable for someone to yell out a racial slur while walking down the street. still happens but not tolerated.
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that kind of precedence is simply just not something that can happen in the light of day today. and then on the other hand, for us to be able to sit in the same room as rachel robinson. do you understand, we are here with rachel robinson. [ applause ] the woman who lived through that life, whose memories and perspectives will forever be shaped by those experiences. her persons here today makes us realize just how connected we are to that part of our history. it is very real and very tangible. in end -- in the end, i can't help but marvel of how far we have come over the course of this woman's life. it also reminds us how far we have to go. how much more work we have to do.
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jackie and rachel robinson's story reminds us how much hard work it takes to move a country forward. it reminds us how much struggle is required to make real progress and change. as you reflect on this story, not just today but i hope you keep thinking about it for the rest of your life, i want you to think about how much strength it took, day in and day out, for rachel and jackie robinson and for thousands of other people just like them all across this country to keep pressing ahead. even though some folks wouldn't even treat them like they were human beings. they just kept pressing ahead. it would have been easy for them to get mad. right? i know i was mad. just watching movie. it would have been easy for them to get mad or to give up. instead they met hatred with decency. i want you all to keep that in mind. they met hatred with decency. and more importantly, they gave
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their absolute very best every single day. they gave their best every single day from the time they were young people just like all of you. they worked hard to prepare themselves for greatness so when the opportunity came their way, they were ready for that greatness. this would have been a totally different story had they not been prepared. had they not trained themselves, educated themselves. jackie robinson was a tremendous athlete but he was so much more than that. he bravely served in our armed forces. he attended college at ucla. he competed as hard as he could at every thing he did so that his gifts wouldn't go to waste. rachel robinson was in every way his equal. in every way his equal. she made her education a priority. she worked hard in school. she eventually became a nurse.
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so jackie and rachel robinson weren't destined for greatness. they prepared themselves for greatness. which meant they could make a difference outside of baseball, as well. that is the only thing important for you to understand. you can be great in your profession. you can earn a lot of money but the question is what are you doing for others? after he retired, jackie became a leader in the civil rights movement working with dr. king, the naacp. he 4e8enned to start a bank to help other minorities to own their own homes. after his death, mrs. robinson carried on that legacy by starting the jackie robinson foundation, which has provided career opportunities for more than 1400 underserved students. i know we have a few jackie robinson scholars here today who are studying at howard and georgetown and yale and brown
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and even my alma mater, princeton. >> first ladies in their own words continues now on american history tv. michelle obama traveled to alabama in 2015 to address the graduating class of tuskegee university. she acknowledged criticism directed at herself and president obama and spoke about dealing with racism. >> while the history of this campus isn't perfect, the defining story of tuskegee is the story of rising hopes and fortunes for all african americans. now graduates, it's your turn to take up that cause. let me tell you, you should feel so proud of making it to this day. i hope you're excited to get started on that next chapter.
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i also imagine that you might think about all that history, all those heroes who came before you and you might also feel a little pressure. pressure to live up to the legacy of those who came before you. pressure to meet the expectations of others. believe me, i understand that kind of pressure. i've experienced a little bit of it myself. [ applause ] graduates, i didn't start out as the fully formed first lady as i stand before you today. no, i had my share of bumps along the way. back when my husband first started campaigning for president, folks had all sort of questions for me. what kind of first lady would i be? would i be more like laura bush or hillary clinton or nancy reagan? the truth is those same questions would have been posed to any candidate spouse.
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that's just the way the process works. as potentially the first african-american first lady, i was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. was i too loud or to angry or to emasculating or was i too soft, too much of a mom? not enough of a career woman. then there was the first time i was on a magazine cover. it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun. now, yeah, it was satire. if i'm really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. it made me wonder, just how are people seeing me? you might remember the on stage
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celebratory fist bump between me and my husband that was referred to as a terrorist fist jab. over the years, people have used interesting words to describe me. one said i exhibited a little bit of uppityism. another noted that i was one of my husband's cronies of color. cable news referred to me as obama's baby mama. of course, barack has endured his fair share of insults and slights. even today there's still folks questioning his citizenship. all of this used to really get to me. back in those days i had a lot
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of sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of me. wondering if i might be hurting my husband's chances of winning his election. fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom. eventually, i realized that if i wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing i could do and that was to have faith in god's plan for me. i have to ignore the noise and be true to myself. i have learned to block everything out and focus on my truth. i had to answer some basic questions for myself. who am i? no really, who am i? what do i care about? the answers to those questions have resulted in the woman who stands before you today. [ applause ]
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a woman who is first and foremost a mom. look, i love our daughters more than anything in the world, more than life itself. while that may not be first thing some folks want to hear from an ivy league educated lawyer, it is truly who i am. for me, being mom in chief is and always will be job number one. next, i've always felt a deep sense of obligation to make the biggest impact possible with this incredible platform. i took on issues that were personal to me. issues like helping families raise healthier kids, honoring the incredible military family that i met out on the campaign trail inspiring our young people to value education and finish college. now some folks criticize my choices for not being bold enough but these were my
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choices. my issues and i decided to tackle them in a way that felt most authentic to me. in way that was substantive and strategic. i immersed myself in the policy details. i worked with kopg -- congress on legislation. i gave speeches to ceos, military generals, hollywood executives but i also worked to ensure my efforts would resonate with kids and families. that meant doing things in creative and unconventional way. yeah, i planted a garden. and hoola hooped on the white house lawn with kids. i did the mom dances on tv. i celebrated military kids with kermit the frog. i asked folks around the country to wear the alma mater t-shirts for college signing day. at the end of the day, by staying true to the me i've
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always known, i found that this journey has been incredibly freeing because no matter what happened i had the peace of mind of knowing that all of the chatter, the name calling, the doubting, all of it was just noise. it did not define me. it didn't change who i was. most importantly, it couldn't hold me back. >> this is american history tv. you're listening to michelle obama in her own words. as first lady, she took up the cause of supporting men and women in the military and their families. she made a plea on behalf of veterans before a 2010 meeting of the clinton global initiative in new york. >> she reminds me with her work to be a voice for america's military families and veterans. using her platform to make sure they get support and respect and the appreciation they deserve. so it is with that, that i would like to introduce you to my first lady, america's first lady, michelle obama. [ applause ]
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>> as you endeavor to do more, to serve more communities, lift up more families, save more lives, how can you find new ways to tap the skills and talents of more people? how can you create and train new leaders? not just here in america but around the world? how can you, as president clinton put it earlier this week, get people involved in our common endeavors? in pondering these questions,
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i'm here to ask you consider an issue near and dear to my heart as first lady. and one i believe that is vitally important to just about everything you're working to accomplish. that is the challenges faced by america's veterans and military families and all they have to offer particularly as they transition to civilian life. now, at first glance, i know this issue may seem too uniquely american in scope for such a global audience here at cgi. but right now, the human potential of america's veterans and military families is both vast and woefully underutilized. and that's not just an issue for those individuals or for this country. it also significantly impacts what you and so many are trying to achieve, not just here in america but around the world.
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i've had the privilege of meeting america's men and women in uniform, in bases and hospitals and communities across this country. i've always come away from these visits not just with a sense of pride and gratitude but with a sense of awe. believe me, i'm awed. i'm awed by their courage and their sacrifice. i'm awed by their commitment to this country and the standard of excellence they uphold. while most folks share my respect and admiration for their service, a lot of folks have no idea what that service entails. many still don't know the full power of their human potential. just consider for a moment the work they do. members of our military master state of the art technologies. some of the most advanced information and medical and communication systems in the world.
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they run the world's most complex operations, distributing supplies to thousands of locations, moving tons of equipment halfway across the globe. they oversee hundreds of their colleagues recruiting the top talent and inspiring folks from diverse backgrounds to succeed as a team. many of them are barely older to -- old enough to vote. yet they shoulder more responsible than many ceos undertaking mission where is there's no margin for error. where the bottom line is often matter of life or death. these are highly valuable, highly transferrable, highly marketable skills. skills i know many businesses, including those represented here today, are desperate to find. the fact is right now more than 150,000 recent veterans are
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still struggling to find jobs. the fact is that america's veterans and military spouses have years of experience and training doing precisely the kind of work that all of you are doing every day across the globe. are you building roads or schools or shelters? they've done that. are you establishing health clinics in remote parts of the world? they've done that too. are you trying to recruit and manage teams of volunteers? are you working to get clean water into a village? are you trying to move people to safety in the wake of a natural disaster? that's all in day's work for these folks. >> first ladies in their own words continues now on american history tv. michelle obama focused a spotlight on childhood obesity and the health of the nation's children. she used the white house as a platform to advance the issue. you'll hear from her next at the 2010 white house easter egg roll
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where the south lawn was converted into a sprawling playground. >> hey, everybody. is this not the perfect day for the easter egg roll? let's say thank you to mother nature. yeah! [ applause ] we're so excited to have you. welcome to the 2010 easter egg roll. the theme for this year's event is ready, set, what? go! as you guys know, this year i launched a nationwide initiative to try to end the epidemic of childhood obesity. it's called let's move. today we have transformed the south lawn into a playground. our hope today is that in addition to having fun and doing some of the traditional activities like the egg roll and the easter egg hunt, that you can learn about beginning to live a more healthy life. we have wonderful food stands in
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back. we have some of the nation's best chefs. you can learn to cook. there's farmers market. you can see the garden. we also have some great activities. we have several athletic centers. we have football, basketball. we've got tennis, yoga. we have some of the most phenomenal athletes here. we have our washington redskins here. we have olympians. apollo ohno. we have billie jean king. in the center we'll have some dancing, hoola hooping. we have dj tony from the "ellen degeneres" show. if that's not enough, you can just go over to the music stage and just have some fun with justin bieber. [ applause ] you know justin bieber? you've heard of justin bieber?
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well, he's here! we have one of my favorites, from the cast of "glee." thank you amber for the rendition of the national anthem. and then we have readers. reading is important. we have jk rowling. one of our favorite authors here. we have reese witherspoon. we have tons of people who are here just to have fun with you guys today. the only thing you need to do is to get ready, set and do what? >> go. >> the first lady also oversaw the planting of a white house garden to promote healthy eating as part of her let's move campaign. she worked hand in hand with local school children to plant and harvest the garden. >> this garden cannot only feed my family, but it's going to feed all the staff at the white house. we're going to use these vegetables to help feed you guys. we're going to serve it at some
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state dinners. with this plot of land, you don't even have to plant this much, we can produce enough fruits and vegetables to feed us for years and years to come, for just a couple hundred dollars. isn't that amazing? we're looking for you guys to help us make it happen. we'll plant the seedlings today. in a few months, hopefully right around time you get out of school, you can come and help us harvest the fruits and vegetables and come into the white house with all our chefs and start doing a little cooking. how does that sound?
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>> as we close our look at michelle obama, we revisit the 2016 campaign that dominated the last year of her eight months in the white house. you'll hear her speech before the democrat national convention in philadelphia which nominated hillary clinton for president. michelle obama's signature line from that campaign, when they go low, we go high. ♪ ♪ >> it's hard to believe that it's been eight years since i first came to this convention to talk to you about why i thought my husband should be president.
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remember how i told you about he has character and conviction, his decency and grace. the traits we have seen every day that he served our country in the white house. i also told you about our daughters. how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world. during our time in the white house, we've had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls to young women. a journey that started soon after he arrived in washington when they set off for their first day at their new school. i will never forget that winter morning as i watched our girls just 7 and 10 years old pile into those black suvs with all those big men with guns. i saw their little faces pressed
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up against the window and the only thing i could think was, what have we done? at that moment i realized that our time in the white house would form the foundation for who they would become and how well we manage this experience could truly make or break them. that's what barack and i think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight. how we urge them to ignore those who question their father's citizenship or faith. how we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on tv does not represent the true spirit of this country. how we explain that when someone
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is cruel or act like a bully, you don't stoop to their level. no, our motto is, when they go low, we go high. with every word we utter, with every action we take. we any our kids are watching us. we as parents are the most important role models. let me tell you, barack and i take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter. not just to our girls but to children across the country. kids who tell us, i saw you on tv. i wrote a report on you for school. kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wondered with hope and he wondered, is my hair like yours? make no mistake about it, this november when we go to polls,
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that is what we're deciding. not democrat or republican, not left or right. in this election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. >> in her last official remarks as first lady, michelle obama spoke in the white house east room in early january 2017. the event was to honor school counselors. she talked about the administration's efforts to improve education. as she concluded her speech, she gave one last pep talk and expressed a personal hope. >> as i end my time in the white house, i can think of no better message to send to our young people in my last official remarks as first lady. for all the young people in the room and those who are watching, know that this country belongs
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to you, to all of you. from every background and walk of life. if you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud american tradition. the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation. that has made us the greatest country on earth. if your family doesn't have much money, i want you to remember that in this country, plenty of folks, including me and my husband, we started out with very little, but with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible. even becoming president. that's what the american dream is all about.
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if you are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great american tradition, too. that's why people first came to this country, to worship freely. whether you are muslim, christian, jewish, hindu, sikh, these are teaching young people about justice, compassion and honesty. i want our young people to continue to learn and practice those values with pride. our glorious diversity, our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds, that is not a threat to who we are. it makes us who we are.
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to the young people here and the young people out there, do not every let anyone make you feel like you don't matter or like you don't have place in our american story because you do. you have a right to be exactly who you are. i also want to be very clear. this right isn't just handed to you. this right has to be earned every single day. you cannot take your freedoms for granted. just like generations who come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms and that starts right now when you're young. right now you need to be preparing to add your voice to our national conversation. you need to prepare yourself to be informed and engaged as a citizen, to serve and to lead, to stand up for our proud
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american values, and to honor them in your daily lives. that means getting the best education possible so you can think critically. so you can express yourself clearly. so you can get a good job and support yourself and your family. so you can be a positive force in your communities. when you encounter obstacles, and i guarantee you will and many of you have, when you are struggling and start thinking about giving up, i want you to remember something my husband and i have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago. something that has carried us through every moment in this white house, and every moment of our lives, and that is the power of hope. the belief that something better
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is always possible if you're willing to work for it and fight for it. it is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country. our hope that if we work hard enough and believe in ourselves then we can be whatever we dream regardless of the limitations that others may place on us. being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and i hope i've made you proud. [ applause ] >> thank you for joining us on american history tv for first ladies in their own words. our program on michelle obama. next week, melania trump. a former model from slovenia. she's only the second first lady
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who was not born in the united states and the first to become a naturalized u.s. citizen. first ladies in their own words is also available as podcasts. you can find it where ever you get your podcast. weekends on c-span2 are an sbe r intellectual feast. every saturday, america's story is documented. on spsd, booktv brings you the latest nonfiction books and authors. funding comes from these television companies and more, including cox. cox is committed to providing eligible families access to affordable internet, through the connect to compete program. bridging the digital divide, one connected and engaged student at a time. cox, bringing us closer. cox, along with these television companies, supports c-span2 as a public service.
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>> c-span now is a free mobile app featuring a view of what's happening in washington, live and on demand. keep up with live streams of floor proceedings of house events, campaigns and more. you can stay current with the laits episodes of "washington journal" and final scheduling information for c-span and a variety of compelling podcasts. c-span now is available on google play. c-span now, your front row seat to washington, any time, anywhere. >> her schedule was grueling, almost as tough as her husband's. yet through it all, roselynn remained a gracious campaigner. >> people ask how can you stand for your husband to be in politics and everybody know everything you do. i t


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