Last week, Virginia McLaurin met President Obama for the first time. She was very excited to see him, as she had never met a president before—which is saying something, because at 106 years old, she's watched a lot of them take office.
McLaurin, who looks much younger than her 106 years, broke out into a dance upon meeting both Obamas. "I thought," she told the president and first lady, "I would never live to get in the White House. And I tell you. I am so happy." McLaurin, who is black, paused to look at the presidential couple. "A black president. A black wife," she said, adding, "And I'm here to celebrate black history." The White House posted a video of their meeting to Facebook on Sunday night, and it been watched more than 21,000,000 times since.
McLaurin first asked to visit the White House in 2014. In a petition, she requested access and told the president about her life. She wrote, "I didnt think I would live to see a Colored President because I was born in the South and didn't think it would happen. I am so happy and I would love to meet you and your family if I could," adding "know you are a busy man, but I wish I could meet you. I would love to meet you. I could come to your house to make things easier. I pray to the Lord that I would be able to meet you one day."
McLaurin wrote that she was born in 1909, was widowed in 1941 and and has been living in Washington, DC ever since. She recalled "the times before President Hoover.I remember when we didn't have any electricity. I had a kerosene lamp. I remember the first car model Ford."
The octogenarian may remember a time with kerosene lamps, but she's adapted to modern technology quite well. In a few interviews posted to YouTube, McLaurin spoke into a smartphone camera about herself. In January, she explained why she decided to stay at home (alone!) during the blizzard, rather than stay with her son.
"As it is now, I can take of myself. And I hope I will be like that until I die," she said. Here she is speaking about her childhood:
McLaurin was most recently in the news for her troubles with bedbugs. WJLA's 7 On Your Side discovered in 2014 that a bedbug infestation forced McLaurin to get rid of her furniture. She reportedly slept on an air mattress. The news report prompted an exterminator to volunteer services, and a Facebook page set up in her name helped raise money to help her refurbish the apartment. It also shared footage from her 106th birthday, which looked delightful:
McLaurin will turn 107 in March.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.