WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama said Wednesday that stories of toil and sweat by slaves once held at a historic home within sight of the White House are an important part of U.S. history, including her own personal story, and are “as vital to our national memory as any other.”
The first lady commented as American Express announced its donation of $1 million to the White House Historical Association to preserve Decatur House and pay for education programs for children. The nearly 200-year-old house is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and operated by the association.
Most of the money will be spent to preserve the building’s former slave quarters, where about 20 men and women “spent their days serving those who came and went from this house” and their nights “jammed together on the second floor of the slave quarters, all the while holding onto a quiet hope, a quiet prayer that they, too, and perhaps their children, would someday be free,” Mrs. Obama said.
The red-brick, three-story townhouse built in 1818 has been home to many, including several secretaries of state.
Mrs. Obama, briefly invoking her ancestry as a descendant of a South Carolina slave, said even more history came from the back of Decatur House, where the slave quarters were located, “the kind of stories that too often get lost, the kinds of stories that are a part of so many of our families’ histories, including my own.”
“These stories of toil, and sweat, and quiet, unrelenting dignity — these stories are as vital to our national memory as any other,” she said. “And so it is our responsibility as a nation to ensure that these stories are told.”
The slave quarters is one of the few such dwellings in an urban setting, and the only physical proof that slaves were held near the White House. Decatur House is located one block north of the White House, on Lafayette Square.
Afterward, Mrs. Obama toured several rooms, including one that researchers concluded had been a kitchen because of the dark splotches on a brick wall made by an oven, as well as splatters of animal fat on the wall that were made during cooking.
She also visited with a group of sixth-graders from a Fairfax, Va., elementary school that was participating in an educational program based on the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, including a 12-year-old dressed up as Abraham Lincoln. They weren’t told about their special visitor and the jaws of several students dropped each time the first lady entered the different rooms they were in.
Decatur House was built for Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur. It was bequeathed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1956. The National Center for White House History was established there in 2010.
Decatur House also is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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