Monday was President Obama’s final year as host of the annual White House Fourth of July party. The night was a bittersweet one as the Obama family marked a number of milestones.
The party started when Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monae turned up to the White House East Room to entertain veterans and their families for the annual picnic.
Veterans and their families, members of the Obama administration, and White House staffers are all invited to the festivities. The event is normally held on the south lawn. The event moved indoors after inclement weather threatened to spoil the party for the second year running.
Kendrick Lamar performed his best loved hits like “Alright” and “Swimming Pools.” Janelle Monae played her greatest hits before finishing her set with a heartfelt tribute to Prince.
Speeches from the President and the First Lady followed the performances.
In his address to the party-goers, Obama credited Lamar and Monae for not only being dedicated and talented artists but also for being “very conscious about their responsibilities and obligations.”
He commended the pair for their contributions to causes close to his and the nation’s heart. A previous guest of the White House, Monae campaigned for Obama on issues like Affordable Health Care Act enrollment as well as voter registration.
No only an important artistic voice in criminal justice reform, she is also an ally not only for the president but for the first lady. Monae recorded “This Is for My Girls” alongside Missy Elliott, Zendaya, Kelly Rowland, Kelly Clarkson, and other female artists. The song supported Michelle Obama’s initiative Let Girls Learn, which campaigns for access to education for girls around the world.
Barack Obama has also previously mentioned Kendrick Lamar as an inspirational figure. In 2015, he said that “How Much a Dollar Cost” was his top musical pick for the year. Lamar has also been to the White House. Obama invited the rapper to a private meeting in the Oval Office in October of 2015.
July 4 also marks the birthday of President Obama’s oldest daughter Malia, who turned 18 this year. The president noted that it was his obligation as a father to embarrass daughter. He promptly began serenading his eldest child on stage with the help of Lamar and Monae, which was captured on video.
Malia joined her father on stage at the end of a round of “Happy Birthday” for an emotional moment.
Malia is graduating from high school this year. The White House announced her plans to attend Harvard University earlier this year. However, Malia elected to take a gap year before making the move from the capital to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2017.
The president also took a moment to marvel at America’s courageous history and commit to helping ensure its bright future.
He said, “And so on a day like this, we celebrate, we have fun, we marvel at everything that has done before, but we also have to recommit ourselves to making sure that everybody in this country is free; that everybody has opportunity; that everybody gets a fair shot; that we look after all of our veterans when they come home; that we look after our military families and give them a fair shake; that every child has a good education. That is what we should be striving for on independence day.”
President Obama marked his final year as host of the nation’s most beloved 4th of July party with admiration for those who have fought for America in the past and those who will continue to do so in the future, both military members and citizens.
[Photo by Pool/Getty Images]