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The 2019 Obama Summit

Former first lady Michell Obama and her brother, Craig Robinson, discussed the importance of community, family and values during the third annual Obama Summit. Photo retrieved from The Chicago Tribune.

The Obama Foundation concluded their third annual summit in Chicago Oct. 29. The two-day summit from Oct. 28-Oct. 29, focused on how home and place can help young leaders use and build foundations to create change.

According to the Foundation’s website, this year’s theme was “Places Reveal Our Purpose.” The summit revealed the Foundation’s current and future plans to create a “global network of leaders.” Speakers and performers included former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, Ava Duvernay, Billy Porter, Yara Shahidi and many more.

The total post volume was 12,000 with 99.8 percent from Twitter and 62.9 percent from the U.S. Many social media users had positive opinions about the Summit with the sentiment score at 87.9 percent. Photos from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media Studio.

During the second day, Obama and her brother, Craig Robinson, spoke with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Isabel Wilkerson in a conversation titled “What Can I Do Where I Am?”

The talk focused on the siblings upbringing and the values their parents taught them while growing up in Chicago. Values such as begin humble, “discipline,” “family,” “truth,” “honesty,” “respect,” “empathy” and “compassion” taught them to understand humans and society. As both reiterated, their parents unknowingly taught them through a sociological lens. These values helped them understand their story and purpose in the world.

Obama said, “The reason you’re were you are now, is that you’re bringing that story with you. You’re not excusing it. You’re not apologizing for it. You’re not redefining it.”

Black American Families
Both siblings discussed how Blacks should have pride in telling their truth to change society. Mrs. Obama stated “many people don’t know our stories” and how Black families have been caricaturized because of skin color. Due the lack of diverse narratives in mainstream media, American society (and global society) othered (and continues to other) racially marginalized families. After the 2008 Presidential Election, America and American media was given a glimpse into the lives of Black American families. However, mainstream media still lacks an understanding of Black family dynamics, which both siblings mentioned.

Robinson and Mrs. Obama were raised around a supportive community and family. This helped them have a solid foundation to remind themselves who they are and where they come from while attending Princeton, a predominantly White environment.

This lesson can be applied to all Black students and other racially marginalized students who are situated within predominantly White schools. As the mentioned in the conversation, both siblings states those from racially marginalized groups may assimilate in these predominantly White cultures and can experience exhaustion trying to prove themselves in these environments.

However, having a foundation before going into these environments will help one not lose themselves while trying to understand these campus cultures. While they did live separate lives at Princeton, they also made time to see each other. For Obama and Robinson, “community and family are the glue of it all,” which helped them succeed at Princeton.

Life Through Pictures & New Beginnings

During the hour discussion, six pictures appeared: the Robinson family when they were children (they went in depth about their father’s strong influence in their lives until his death in 1991 at 55), the siblings time at Princeton (according to the siblings, Obama frequented the library and Robinson would frequently party; both were sociology majors), Robinson walking the former first lady down the aisle on her wedding day, the night of President Obama’s U.S. Senate Election and the last Obama-Robinson family lunch in the White House after the 2012 Presidential Election).

The last photo featured a Jackson Park sign followed by a video message from former President Barack Obama. He revealed the finalized plans for The Obama Presidential Center, which will be located in Jackson Park in the South Side of Chicago.

For more videos on the Summit, visit The Obama Foundation’s website, Twitter and YouTube pages.