WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address at a democracy summit sponsored by a national, nonpartisan voting organization she helped create, the group announced Wednesday.
The former first lady’s June 13 remarks to When We All Vote’s inaugural Culture of Democracy Summit in Los Angeles will be her first in-person appearance before a large audience since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said. She last addressed When We All Vote in person in 2018 before the midterm elections.
“We need to talk about the state of our democracy and the ways we can protect it right from our own communities,” Michelle Obama said in a tweet announcing the upcoming speech.
Conversations during the June 10-13 summit will center around protecting democracy, combatting voter suppression and ensuring equal access to the ballot box for this fall’s November midterm elections and political contests beyond, organizers said.
Artists, athletes, academics, grassroots organizers and technology, civic and corporate leaders are among the 1,500 people expected to participate.
“Democracy isn’t just a box we check every four years,” said Stephanie Young, executive director of When We We All Vote. “Voting must be embedded in all aspects of our culture.”
President Joe Biden invited global leaders to his own Summit for Democracy last year to pledge his commitment to democracy worldwide, even as the United States faces its own challenges in meeting the democratic ideals of its founders.
Former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to stoke lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Republican-led states have used his false claims of election fraud to justify new voting restrictions. Supporters of the Republican former president who deny that Biden, a Democrat, was legitimately elected are running for election administration roles in several states.
In 2018, Mrs. Obama used the considerable influence she had built up as first lady to launch When We All Vote to help register eligible voters in the United States.
That fall, she released her memoir, “Becoming,” which became a bestseller, and embarked on a worldwide book tour that drew thousands of people to her appearances.
Her last big in-person appearance before the pandemic was a February 2020 conversation with Oprah Winfrey in New York that was part of a wellness tour by the former TV talk show host.
Mrs. Obama isolated during the pandemic and, apart from the book tour, has kept a relatively low profile since leaving the White House. She appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show this week.
The former first lady leads When We All Vote with an all-star group, including actors Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, television producer Shonda Rhimes, singers Janelle Monae, Jennifer Lopez and H.E.R. and professional athletes Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Megan Rapinoe, among others.