President Barack Obama admits to being a hip-hop fan, but it’s still a rare occasion when the nation’s capital rocks.
Young spoken-word poets recently made the power of their voices felt at the Kennedy Center after receiving the prestigious “Coming Up Taller” award at the White House. Creative youth attended a ceremony hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. A project of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, “Coming Up Taller” recognizes educational programs that positively impact youth. The prestigious honor commends artistic endeavors that inspire vision in communities nationwide.
“One of the writers who works with young people through the InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit, Michigan put it best when he said something very simple,” Michelle Obama told a special reception. “If you ask a kid to dream, he’ll dream.”
Already a national award-winning program, InsideOut’s Citywide Poets initiative was represented at the event. High school student Lena Cintron received a standing ovation for poems that she’s written as a member of Citywide Poets
“It was an inspiring beautiful experience to accept the Coming Up Taller Award at the White House,” said Terry Blackhawk, founder of the program. “It was also inspiring to be in the presence of so many fine youth arts organizations from around the country, who, like InsideOut, are working against incredible odds to use the power of the arts to change young people’s lives.”
Recipients of the award win a $10,000 prize, plus a plaque.
Mrs. Obama thanked the teachers, mentors and professional artists who donate time to programs that encourage youth in the arts.
“What you do isn’t easy, and we know that, particularly right now during these days of a lot of belt-tightening,” she said. “I know that many of you have been putting in probably long hours and later nights just to keep things together, and sometimes probably paying out of your own pockets to keep everything going. But I also know the difference that you’re making in the lives of young people all across this country and around the world.”