EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE OBAMA – ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

<em>First Lady Michelle Obama addressing volunteers at Bret Harte Elementary School. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009</em>

First Lady Michelle Obama addressing volunteers at Bret Harte Elementary School. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

During the 2008 campaign I never had the opportunity to attend an event that featured Michelle Obama. That oversight was remedied today as I attended the playground built at Bret Harte Elementary School. As she walked down the line shaking hands and greeting people I was able to have the following exchange.

Bill Wilson: My husband and I have been together 23 years. We need to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Michelle Obama: I agree.

Bill Wilson: We need it done now.

Michelle Obama: It will be.

Bill Wilson: I really want to be able to support him.

Michelle Obama: As well you should!

Bill Wilson: We really do want him to succeed.

Michelle Obama: I’ll tell him

(At this point she leaned over to give me a hug.)

As she stepped away I said, “We were married by the Mayor last year.”

Michelle Obama: Give your husband a hug from me.

<em>After attaching the two support poles to the body of the slide, Michelle and Maria prepare to help lift it into place. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009</em>

After attaching the two support poles to the body of the slide, Michelle and Maria prepare to help lift it into place. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

<em>Lifting. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009</em>

Lifting. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

<em>On the move. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009</em>

On the move. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

As you can tell from the pictures accompanying this story Mrs. Obama really did more than talk the talk. She and California’s First Lady, Maria Shriver, help install a slide as well attaching and bolting other features on the playground equipment.

Earlier in the morning, Maria Shriver had toured the site by herself. I was working on painting the mural. They were worried about whether the mural would be finished in time so they asked us to keep working. When Maria finished her remarks, she was immediately surrounded by many people. I thought that any chance of greeting her was gone so I just continued painting. About five minutes later I turned around and discovered she was about ten feet from me talking with two people. I asked if she would mind having her picture taken with us. She agreed. I was balancing a paint dish in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, trying very hard not to get any wet paint on Maria. We stood and posed. Then Maria leaned over and took the brush out of my hand dipped it in the paint and started painting part of the tree I had been working on.

<em>The dark green in the lower right section of this tree was painted by Maria Shriver. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009</em>

The dark green in the lower right section of this tree was painted by Maria Shriver. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

I said, “We’ll remember that this is the spot you painted.

Maria: “ Why? I didn’t go out of the lines or anything.”

I replied, “There are no lines. But believe me we’ll remember what you did today. In fact I feel there is very little of today that I will forget.”

There was a few minutes of small talk in which I tried to express my gratitude for her involvement in this project before her staff person came over and told her it was time to go.

<em>Paul Chavez paints the staircase as the image of his grandfather Cesar Chavez looms in the background. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009</em>

Paul Chavez paints the staircase as the image of his grandfather Cesar Chavez looms in the background. Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

See Related: ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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