A Visit to the White House Kitchen Garden:

The President awards the Medal of Honor.

Parents, staff, and students tour the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Grounds of the White House after participating in a “Let’s Move!” event preparing and eating a garden harvest with the First Lady in the East Room of the White House, June 3, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

See more from our “Photo of the Day” gallery here.





5 Photos: The President Awards the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin and Private Henry Johnson

On Tuesday, in a ceremony at the White House, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army Sergeant William Shemin and Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I.


Our Continued Commitment to America’s Foster Youth

Last month was National Foster Care Month. It provided us an important opportunity to highlight the many ways that the Administration has worked to stem the often disproportionate, unfair, and heartbreaking challenges facing our foster youth, and to provide them the equal opportunity for success that they deserve. We want them to know they are not alone.


5 Facts You Should Know About the Role Trade Plays on America’s Farms and Ranches

Without the expanded trade that came with past trade agreements, the agricultural economy and the American economy as a whole would not be as strong as it is today. But new trade agreements are only possible if our negotiators can speak with one voice to negotiate free and fair trade deals. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) — now being considered in Congress — allows them to do just that.



Is Amazon funding white supremacy?

Petitioning Amazon.com

Stop Funding White Supremacists

Petition by Julie Damigella
Holliston, Massachusetts

For the past five years, Amazon.com has been helping a white supremacist organization make thousands of dollars. Counter-Currents, an organization whose website exists to advance the books of noted neo-Nazis, is just one of the several hate-driven organizations using Amazon to make money to fund their organizations. As members of Amazon’s Affiliates program, they funnel traffic to the Amazon store. In exchange, Amazon sends Counter-Currents a percentage of any sale made from that referral. How is it possible that one of America’s most respected and innovative companies lets hatemongers use its site to promote its distasteful agenda?

I want Amazon.com to stop helping hate organizations and block them from making money through their platform.

My name is Julie Damigella, I am a mother of two and an avid Amazon.com shopper. Like many of you, I get everything there,  from household items to birthday presents. But when I read about how Amazon was helping neo-nazi organizations make money I was horrified. After reading the article, I did a quick Amazon search and realized that it was all true. What was more frustrating is that Amazon, in its own policy, states that the exact type of organization currently using its platform to make money,  are prohibited.

As a mother I teach my kids not to hate and to stand up for what is right. So now I am practicing what I preach. I am telling Amazon to block these organizations and I want you to help me.

Hatred, in any shape or form is unacceptable. Often there is little we can do about it, but here is our chance to actually make a change. Help me make sure that these organizations don’t make another penny from Amazon. Join me and tell Amazon to stop sanctioning hate and abide by their own policy. Tell them to block hate groups from profiting from their site.

Southern Rites: The Heartbreaking Story of Justin Patterson’s Death

Wh<i>Best viewed in full screen mode</i><br>Julie and Bubba, 2002en Gillian Laub started photographing the racially divided town of Mount Vernon, Ga. — with its segregated homecomings and proms — she stumbled onto the story of Justin Patterson, a 22-year-old black man who was killed, on Jan. 29, 2011, by Norman Neesmith, a 62-year-old white man.

posted in Time

Patterson’s story, which further divided Mount Vernon, is the subject of Southern Rites, a HBO documentary premiering on May 18.

Dedee Clarke, Justin’s mother, spoke to TIME.

In HBO’s Southern Rites, photographer Gillian Laub goes to Mount Vernon, Ga., a racially divided town

Gillian Laub:Sha’von, Justin and Santa, 2012

“When I got the call, it was around 3.45 in the morning and my youngest son, Sha’von, said that Justin had been shot and he was dead… For a long time, Sha’von wouldn’t talk about it, he would only tell me things in bits and pieces. It wasn’t until 2013 that he told me the whole story. I think that the thing that bothered him the most was that the gun was actually aimed at him. Justin looked back, saw that and pushed Sha’von out of the way and took the shot himself. It’s something I don’t think he’ll really recover from. He just has to learn to live with it. It’s a day-by-day process, but I don’t think anybody can ever be the same.

The first time I met Gillian was in 2010. My youngest son, Sha’von, was attending the prom that year, and she was photographing it. I thought the work she was doing was great. But I didn’t know that much about her, I just knew that the pictures that she was taking were important. I didn’t get to know her on a deeper level until my son, Justin, died.

[When Gillian shifted her focus to what had happened to Justin], I was, at first, a little reluctant. But I could just see her passion and drive as she talked to me and I knew at that point that she really cared. I was more relaxed around her and I began to open up. But I just remember saying that it wasn’t going to be pretty sight because I was just not in the right state of mind, and she understood that.

You have to feel some kind of compassion when you do this. And Gillian had that; she felt it. And because she felt it, I believed that shows in her work.

Of course, it was very difficult to see Norman Neesmith in Gillian’s film. I had always made it a point not to really look directly at him. And to see him up close and personal in the film, it was very hard. It was hard to watch some of the things that he said. It’s just hard to hear that he never really acknowledged that his daughter invited them into his home. I felt that he thought he was a victim. I don’t think he understands that Justin had a life. He had a daughter. And she will never have her father.

Gillian’s work makes me feel that my son’s death was not in vain. That’s the one thing that I can hope for. I’m hoping that it will help someone. It’s too late for my son, but maybe it can help somebody else.

I’m hoping it will help other mothers to see that you can still survive that kind of pain and. I’m a survivor because God says I am. Everything that I believe in is because of God. He’s the reason that I’m here because there’s no way I could have done any of this by myself. I felt like nobody really cared because the story wasn’t out. It was a while before it was even in a paper. To see it now and to know that people really care, it does make me feel supported. It definitely does. I’m thinking that everyone will have an idea of what happened. This is real life. These people are real people; they feel that pain continuously every day.

My goal here is for people to know and understand that there’s still, very much so, a lot of injustice in this world and something has to be done about it.”

NMAAHC: Edison R. Wato, Jr., Membership Program Manager

NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

NMAAHC involved in the historic Slave Wrecks Project 
Iron ballast used to weigh down the ship

Objects from a slave ship that sank off the coast of Cape Town in 1794 will be on long-term loan to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The announcement, took place at a historic ceremony at Iziko Museums of South Africa. The discovery of the ship marks a milestone in the study of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and showcases the results of the Slave Wrecks Project, a unique global partnership among museums and research institutions, including the NMAAHC and six partners in the U.S. and Africa.

Objects from the shipwreck—iron ballast to weigh down the ship and its human cargo and a wooden pulley block—were retrieved this year from the wreck site of the São José-Paquete de Africa, a Portuguese slave ship that sank off the coast of Cape Town on its way to Brazil while carrying more than 400 enslaved Africans from Mozambique.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of NMAAHC, and Rooksana Omar, CEO of Iziko Museums, joined in the announcement of the shipwreck’s discovery and the artifact loan agreement.


Underwater  Archeology

Founded in 2008, Slave Wrecks Project (SWP) brings together partners who have been investigating the impact of the slave trade on world history. It spearheaded the recent discovery of the São José wreck and the ongoing documentation and retrieval of select artifacts. In addition, extensive archival research was conducted on four continents in six countries that ultimately uncovered the ship captain’s account of the wrecking in the Cape archives as well as the ship’s manifest in Portuguese archives.

SWP, established with funding from the Ford Foundation, set a new model for international collaboration among museums and research institutions. It has been combining groundbreaking slave shipwreck investigation, maritime and historical archeological training, capacity building, heritage tourism and protection, and education to build new scholarship and knowledge about the study of the global slave trade.

The São José’s voyage was one of the earliest in the trans-Atlantic slave trade from East Africa to the Americas, which continued well into the 19th century. More than 400,000 East Africans are estimated to have made the Mozambique-to-Brazil journey between 1800 and 1865. The ship’s crew and some of the more than 400 enslaved on board were rescued after the ship ran into submerged rocks about 100 meters (328 feet) from shore. Tragically, more than half of the enslaved people perished in the violent waves and those who were saved were resold into slavery in the Western Cape.

The São José wreck site is located between two reefs, a location that creates a difficult environment to work in because it is prone to strong swells creating challenging conditions for the archaeologists. To date, only a small percentage of the site has been excavated; fully exploring the site will take time.

edison signature
Edison R. Wato, Jr.
Membership Program Manager

P.S. Follow any of the links below for more information on the NMAAHCs involvement in this historic project. Follow this link to watch a video about the project.

Washington Post: Humble Objects that Tell a Powerful Story
New York Times: Grim History Traced in Sunken Slave Ship Found Off South Africa
New York Times: Finding a Slave Ship, Uncovering History
CNN: Wreck of 18th Century Slave Ship Discovered
SI Press Release: NMAAHC To Display Objects from Slave Shipwreck Found Near Cape Town, South Africa