First Lady Dolley Madison is credited with launching the White House Easter Egg Roll in 1814 when her husband James Madison was president. Most of us, however, didn’t pay attention to the time honored event until the Obamas took office. And even then, pics of Queen Bey and Jay Z with their adorable Blue Ivy is the closest many of us have come to it. There are some lucky others, however, who have taken the Carters’ cue and joined in on the festivities.
For the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll, which welcomed roughly 35,000 kids, Boston-area anesthesiologist Rayna Clay Mackay had high emotions when she accompanied her family to the 2016 Easter Egg Roll thanks to tickets from her cousin Valerie Jarrett. “It is special to visit the White House regardless of who is the president,” she stated via email,” but, as an African American-Scottish (my husband was raised in Edinburgh, Scotland) family to visit when President Obama was the sitting president was an honor. For our family, he is truly “our” president. He is the physical example for our children that they can be anything.”
Jason Carter, who puts on the One MusicFest in Atlanta, was also emotional when he and his young family participated in the Easter Egg Roll in 2015. “Having two sons born during the Obama administration is a blessing,” he shared via email. “It helps instill a level of pride, certainty and confidence within them. The only president they have ever known or seen has been a Black man with a powerful, yet non-traditional ethnic name, Barack Obama. He’s presence alone helps remove any mental barriers and self-doubt. Their President is a mirror image of them and the most powerful man in the free world. President Obama is their real life superhero.”
DMV-area resident Kimatni Rawlins, founder of Fit Fathers, which inspires men to foster healthier families, and his wife Misa were able to take their daughters Mika, 9, and Aya, 7, to the festivities in 2013. For him the first family set an incredible example in another aspect of life that is important to him.
“The “Let’s Move” Easter Egg Roll Social at the White House was not only pretty cool, but it was fascinating for the kids who were entertained with fitness games, concerts, food and hours of fun. It was a proud moment for my young family who respects what the Obamas have achieved in our community as it relates to health, wellness and overall respect for your sisters and brothers,” he explained via email.
“I never knew that it was open to the public. I thought it was just White House staff children,” says Chicago-area resident Cheyenne Martin who took her daughter Aliayah Scott to the last two Obama Easter Egg Rolls. In addition to the actual Easter Egg Roll, Aliayah participated in tennis, basketball and yoga. Obama leaving office has the Chicago-area preteen reflecting on more than the great times she had at the White House, however.
“Ultimately what I think about him leaving is that he has left such a great legacy for us. He showed us that anybody could do this if they try hard enough,” says the seventh grader. “He has left a legacy for a people that don’t have that much confidence in ourselves and he left a plan for young Black people, older Black people, middle-aged Black people, all types of races so they’re not scared that they can’t be a great president or anything they want to be.”
Do share your Easter Egg Roll memories and pics using the hashtag #OneObamaEaster.
Ronda Racha Penrice is a freelance writer living in Atlanta. She is the author of African American History for Dummies.