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Obama celebrates Black History Month, ahead of Selma visit

February 26, 2015
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David Johns, Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, left, takes a photograph with Malik Leak, 6, while waiting for the arrival of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a reception in recognition of African American History Month in the East Room of the White House Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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David Johns, Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, left, takes a photograph with Malik Leak, 6, while waiting for the arrival of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a reception in recognition of African American History Month in the East Room of the White House Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is celebrating what he calls “the central role that African Americans have played in every aspect of American life.”

The first African-American president was joined by his wife Michelle as they hosted a White House reception Thursday for Black History Month.

Obama said his family, including daughters Sasha and Malia will visit Selma, Alabama next week to honor the 50th anniversary of historic civil rights marches across the state. He said the trip will also note the upcoming 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

The Black History Month celebration fell on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. Obama thanked Martin’s parents for attending, and said part of a parent’s task is to show all kids “every single day that their lives matter.”

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