At a "workshop" for the film 42 in the State Dining Room of the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama told the assembled guests that "this is your house, too."
"I want to make sure that you all know how welcome you are here in this house, because the truth is we do these things -- we make sure that we do these workshops so that you all know that this is your house, too," Obama told the guests. "So we want you to make yourselves at home. We want you to feel good and relaxed and learn and ask questions, okay?"
The White House is currently not allowing the public to tour or access the White House. Only invited guests are allowed inside.
Michelle Obama thanked the Hollywood actors for making it to the White House. "I want to thank Harrison Ford -- I’ve wanted to say that for a while. (Laughter.) Harrison Ford. So you think you trip because I’m here? I’m tripping out -- (laughter) -- because he’s here. And look at this stage -- Mr. Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman -- he’s as cute as he was in the movie. (Laughter.) Just admit it. (Applause.) Outstanding -- as well as Brian Helgeland, who is here as well. You’re going to hear from them," she said.
According to an official transcript of the event provided by the White House, Obama said that students had from Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and California had gathered at the White House. "We have students from Gaithersburg, Maryland -- who are you, where are you? (Applause.) Maryland in the house. Alexandria, Virginia. (Applause.) You guys are here. We’ve got some D.C. kids. (Applause.) Of course you all are the loudest ones. (Laughter.) It’s okay. We’ve got students from the Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School in Los Angeles -- where are our L.A. kids? (Applause.) There you go. You can be louder. (Laughter.) It’s okay, you all traveled," she said.
Obama complimented the movie, which is about Jackie Robinson. "And it wasn’t the wonderful screenwriting or the directing. It was the raw emotion that it just makes you feel after the experience. I mean, watching anyone go through what Jackie and Rachel Robinson did -- the outright discrimination they encountered at every turn, from the fans in the stadium to the airport receptionist, even from some of his own teammates. And you’re 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?"
And 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 are no more “Whites Only” signs posted anywhere in this country. Although it still happens, it is far less acceptable for someone to yell out a racial slur while you’re walking down the street -- it still happens, but not tolerated. That kind of prejudice 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 all 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 presence here today makes us realize just how connected we are to that part of our history. It is very real and very tangible. In the end, I can’t help but marvel at just how far we’ve come over the course of this woman’s life. But it also remind us how far we have to go, how much more work we have to do.
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.
So 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, because I know I was mad just watching the movie. It would have been easy for them to get mad or to give up. But instead, they made hate -- they met hatred with decency. I want you all to keep that in mind -- they met hatred with decency. And, more importantly, they gave their absolute very best every single day -- do you hear -- they gave their best every single day.