Special D.C. History Guest at E.L. Haynes
World famous after her visit to the White House for the 2016 Black History Month reception, Ms. Virginia McLaurin spoke with D.C. history classes at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School on March 16, 2016. McLaurin was born in South Carolina and came to D.C. during the Great Migration.
Media outlets from all over the world have interviewed McLaurin about what it was like to meet the the Obamas. The Haynes’ students had listened to some of those interviews and were ready to move on to other topics related to their academic studies.
Freshman Joshua Johnson-Caruso introduced McLaurin to the more than 60 students and a dozen teachers assembled for the special guest. Johnson-Caruso said that he has known Ms. McLaurin all his life because they live in the same building. He added that she is generous and has a lot of energy.
McLaurin shared that her son had attended school in the same building years ago when it was Clark Elementary School.
The students and their teacher, Julian Hipkins III, posed a series of questions, including:
What were some of the difficulties you faced coming to DC?
What are some historical events that stand out to you?
What person in history has inspired you the most?
What can you tell us about going out on U Street?
How has your faith impacted your life?
Have you met any D.C. mayors and if so, which ones?
How do you feel about Donald Trump?
How do you feel knowing that more than 70 million people have seen the video of you with the Obamas? (Here is a video clip of McLaurin’s response to this question about her fame.)
Now that you have met the President, what is next on your bucket list?
What advice would you give to today’s youth?
McLaurin’s advice to young people was that they pursue their studies and get an education. “Nowadays you can’t even get a job babysitting without a high school diploma.” She added that nothing is impossible. “Can’t is dead,” McLaurin said emphatically.
The next item on her bucket list? McLaurin looked around the room and said, “That all of you get your education and succeed in life.”
As for herself, she said she lives by the motto of loving everyone. She noted, “If I’ve got an enemy, I don’t know anything about them.”
There was a lot of love in the room following her presentation. Students and teachers lined up for photos, to give McLaurin a hug, and to ask more questions.
The visit was arranged by Teaching for Change staff member Julian Hipkins III who is teaching two D.C. history classes at Haynes this spring. This was McLaurin’s second school visit of the week. On March 14 she visited Roots Public Charter School along with the Harlem Globetrotters.