Michelle Obama to receive video invite from SG, OBS

Getting Obama to speak on campus will be no easy feat: She prefers to garner campus-wide support for her speaking events.

By Christina Pillsbury

In an attempt to catch the attention of Michelle Obama, Student Government (SG) and the Organization of Black Students (OBS) will film a video over 10 hours in the Reynolds Club tomorrow inviting the First Lady to speak at OBS’s annual Kent Lecture.

In addition to individual requests from students, faculty, and community members, Chicago Men’s A Cappella (CMAC) and student gospel group Soul Umoja will be asking for Obama to visit through song.

CMAC reworked their signature song, “I Am Strong for Chicago,” which will be filmed during their rehearsal tonight. The new song, “I’m Strong for Obama,” will include lyrics tailored to the Obamas, such as “Michelle is the fairest, Barack is the squarest of any world leaders we know.”

Getting Obama to speak on campus will be no easy feat: She prefers to garner campus-wide support for her speaking events, and challenged the students of George Washington University earlier this year to perform 100,000 hours of community service before speaking at the university’s commencement. Students from University of California—Merced sent her over 900 handwritten Valentines to speak at the school’s first commencement last May.

Obama’s chief-of-staff Susan Sher suggested the video, part of an ongoing conversation SG and OBS have had through the University’s political offices in Washington D.C.

Third-year Chris Williams, SG vice president for student affairs, said he will wait until the school has a “unique, cohesive, and personal message to deliver,” before getting in touch with Sher again.

Because of her connection to the university, Williams said that choosing Obama for this annual event was an easy decision.

“Michelle was an almost intuitive choice because of her deep relationship with the university, strength of character, and leadership in the White House.”

Beginning in 1996, Obama served as the Associate Dean of Student Services, when she helped form the Community Service Center. After 2002, she moved to the U of C Hospital, first serving as executive director for community affairs. In 2005 she became vice president for community and external affairs.

Second-year and OBS political chair Edward James said Obama’s return would continue the tradition of community involvement she fought for at the University. “Obama traversed unchartered territory and ultimately created a legacy of community service that still lives on this campus today. We want her to challenge and encourage us to become better stewards of our global community,” James said.

The Kent lecture is an annual event sponsored by OBS in honor of former English professor George E. Kent, who passed away in 1982. Speakers are invited based upon their prominence in the black community and are asked to speak about current social issues. Past speakers have included Angela Davis, Cornel West, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Julius Wilson.

“Whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, I hope the U of C community comes together to help make this dream a reality,” James said.