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Tagged: Marian Robinson

The National Building Museum was lit spectacularly in this view from the balcony as the Obama family and others listened to the Backstreet Boys perform during the annual "Christmas in Washington" taping.

-Pete Souza

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson, attend the "Christmas in Washington" taping at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2013.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson, attend the "Christmas in Washington" taping at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2013.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson, attend the "Christmas in Washington" taping at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2013.

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The Obamas Watch the Backstreet Boys at Christmas in Washington:

The President decided to show off his dance moves backstage at Sasha's recital. And you thought your dad embarrassed you...

The President shows off his dance moves as he and the First Lady waited backstage during an intermission of daughter Sasha's dance recital at Strathmore Arts Center in North Bethesda, Maryland, Sunday, June 16, 2013.

The President shows off his dance moves as he and the First Lady waited backstage during an intermission of daughter Sasha's dance recital at Strathmore Arts Center in North Bethesda, Maryland, Sunday, June 16, 2013.

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President Obama Shows off his Dance Moves at Sasha’s Dance Recital:
President Barack Obama Speaking at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

President Barack Obama Speaking at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

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.@ArethaFranklin Performing at the National Christmas Tree Lighting:
.@MariahCarey Performing at the National Christmas Tree Lighting:
Jane Lynch Introducing the First Family at the National Christmas Tree Lighting:
The First Family Smiling at the National Christmas Tree Lighting:
The First Family Lights the National Christmas Tree:
First Lady Michelle Obama Reads a Christmas Story at the National Christmas Tree Lighting:
.@JaneMarieLynch Hosts the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony:

The White House just released a great photo of the National Christmas Tree with the First Family during the lighting ceremony.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson react after the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2013.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson react after the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2013.

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Barack Michelle Sasha Malia Obama Marian Robinson National Christmas Tree Lighting:

Just found some photos that White House photographer Pete Souza took at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony last night.

The First Family Lights the National Christmas Tree

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2012.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2012.

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The First Family Lights the National Christmas Tree:
President Obama Speaking at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony:

We just found another photo of the First Family volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank at Thanksgiving!

The Obama Family Volunteers for Thanksgiving

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The Obama Family Volunteers for Thanksgiving:

The White House does Thanksgiving right. This year the Obamas are celebrating with a quiet dinner at the White House, but here are a few of the public festivities to get you in the holiday spirit.

Probably the most popular and beloved White House Thanksgiving tradition is the pardoning of the national turkey. As usual, Sasha and Malia were on hand while their dad made the official pronouncement. Watch the event below or just scroll down to see who won.

President Barack Obama, Accompanied by Sasha and Malia, Pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey


National Thanksgiving Turkey CaramelNational Thanksgiving Turkey Popcorn

Of course, for the Obamas, Thanksgiving isn't just about a big meal, it's about giving back.

President Barack Obama greets a young girl while he and First Lady Michelle Obama and the First Family volunteer during a Thanksgiving service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., Nov. 27, 2013.

President Barack Obama greets a young girl while he and First Lady Michelle Obama and the First Family volunteer during a Thanksgiving service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., Nov. 27, 2013.

And finally, Happy Thanksgiving from the President.

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First Family Capital Area Food Bank Thanksgiving:
President Barack Obama, Accompanied by Sasha and Malia, Pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey:
National Thanksgiving Turkey Caramel:
National Thanksgiving Turkey Popcorn:
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Leslie Robinson, daughters Malia and Sasha, and Marian Robinson, tour the Lime Quarry on Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. Ahmed Kathrada, a former prisoner in Robben Island Prison, leads their tour.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Leslie Robinson, daughters Malia and Sasha, and Marian Robinson, tour the Lime Quarry on Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. Ahmed Kathrada, a former prisoner in Robben Island Prison, leads their tour.

Today, our family visited Robben Island for an experience we will never forget. Robben Island is located off the coast of South Africa, and from the 1960s through the 1990s, this Island housed a maximum security prison. Many of the prisoners there – including the guide for our visit, a man named Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada – were activists who worked to bring down Apartheid, the South African government’s policies that discriminated against people of color.  Under Apartheid, people of different races were separated in nearly every part of South African society.  They were forced to attend separate schools, live in separate neighborhoods, even swim at separate beaches – and in nearly every case, the neighborhoods, schools and other facilities for black people were much worse than the ones for white people.

Among those imprisoned at Robben Island for fighting Apartheid were three men who went on to become President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe and the current president, Jacob Zuma.

So today, as we toured the island, I couldn’t help but think about how this place must have shaped these leaders.  Put yourself in their shoes – all they were doing was fighting to ensure that people in South Africa would be treated equally, no matter what the color of their skin.  And for that, they wound up confined on this remote island, far removed from the world they so desperately hoped to change.

During our visit, we toured the rock quarry where they spent their days doing backbreaking labor, crushing and lifting heavy rocks in the blinding sun. We also saw the tiny cells – including Mr. Kathrada’s cell – where they spent their nights. It was amazing to see Mandela’s cell, a tiny room – about 6 feet wide – where he spent 18 of the 27 years he was in prison. He slept on a thin mat on the floor, and when he stretched out to sleep at night, his toes touched one wall, while his head grazed the other. The walls were two feet thick with no decorations, and he was given a bucket to use as a toilet.

In his first few years on the island, Mandela wasn’t allowed to read the newspaper, listen to the radio, or even have a clock to keep the time. Meals consisted of small rations of porridge – and every other day, he received a tiny piece of meat, but it was mainly gristle. When his mother and son passed away, he couldn’t attend their funerals. And at one point, a prison guard left a news clipping in Mandela’s cell – an article about the government’s mistreatment of his wife – just to taunt him.

Yet despite these conditions, Mandela and his fellow prisoners never lost hope. As Mandela once said, “Prison – far from breaking our spirits – made us more determined to continue with this battle until victory was won.” They did their best to get an education while in prison – they read as many books as they could, and some prisoners even got university degrees through correspondence courses. They vigorously debated philosophy, politics, and the direction of the anti-Apartheid movement. They stood up to mistreatment by the prison guards. And they found ways to communicate in secret, such as stuffing notes inside tennis balls that they would pass along during recreation periods.

So when these prisoners were finally released, their spirits were far from broken. Mandela went on to lead the movement to end Apartheid and set up a new democratic government. He won a Nobel Peace Prize and became South Africa’s first black President. And for me, one of the most amazing parts of his story is this: when he was inaugurated as President, his invited three of his prison guards from Robben Island to join in his inaugural celebration.

So instead of becoming cynical or despondent, or allowing himself to be consumed by bitterness and hatred, Mandela found it in his heart to forgive. And even during all those years imprisoned on Robben Island, he never stopped believing that his country could move forward together as one nation in that same spirit of forgiveness.

While very few of us will ever encounter the kind of discrimination and brutality that Nelson Mandela endured, all of us can learn important lessons from his struggle. We can learn about the importance of standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost. We can learn about how, with self-discipline and courage, we can overcome the most unthinkable hardships. And we can learn about the power of forgiveness to turn enemies into friends and help us move forward from a troubled past to a more hopeful future. So I hope that you will read more about President Mandela’s extraordinary life and seek to live up to his example in your own life.

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The First Family Visits the Lime Quarry on Robben Island in South Africa:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a concert honoring singer-songwriter Carole King in the East Room of the White House, May 22, 2013. President Obama presented King with the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song during the event, which was part of the "In Performance at the White House" series. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a concert honoring singer-songwr

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a concert honoring singer-songwr:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, listen as Eddie Floyd sings "Knock On Wood" during the “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul” concert in the East Room of the White House, April 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Malia and...

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Malia and…: