POTUS Makes A #SocialCivics House Call to WTF Podcast

Click on the link below to listen to WTF podcast host Marc Maron’s June 19th interview with President Obama. The interview was held in Maron’s garage. Now that’s POTUS making a #socialcivics house call. It’s also #socialcivics in action!


WH.gov blog recap of #ObamaTownHall with BlogHer and SheKnows

The White House blog published a great recap of President Obama’s Town Hall with BlogHer and SheKnows on April 15 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Click on the link to read it.


My Digital Citizenship Valentine: 4 Reasons to Love #WHSocial Events

My Digital Valentine
My Digital Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today, I am using my blog to send a Digital Citizenship Valentine to the White House (WH), WH Office of Digital Strategy staff and interns, and my fellow social media leaders who participated in the #WHSocial French Arrival Ceremony for President Francois Hollande on February 11.

Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

The Office of Digital Strategy uses digital media to promote President Barack Obama’s agenda and policies. Through its efforts, the American people have been given an opportunity to do three things:

  • To see what’s happening at the WH on a daily basis via WhiteHouse.gov and WH social media channels.
  • To engage President Obama, WH officials, and other policy makers in conversation about the future of our great nation through WhiteHouse.gov Live events, Town Halls, Facebook and Twitter chats, and Google Hangouts.
  • To express their digital citizenship by making comments and asking questions on WH social media channels, sharing and discussing what they learn with their digital network, and creating their own WH-related content to engage their network.

Four years ago, the Office of Digital Strategy began inviting Americans who serve as social media influencers and leaders in their online networks to participate in face-to-face Tweet Ups and #WHSocial events that support the State of the Union, Town Halls, and other WH events. The social media influencers and leaders have been able to expand the WH’s public outreach efforts. Their efforts reach many more Americans who get their news from social media. They have also worked to breakdown the barriers between the U.S. government and its citizens. Together with the Office of Digital Strategy, they are helping to make the Obama administration the most accessible and transparent administration in U.S. history.

Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

In January, I was invited as 1 of 60 social media leaders (out of a pool of over 6,000 applicants) to participate in the State of the Union Social. Click here to read about my experience.

Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

A few days after the event, I learned about and applied to participate in the #WHSocial French Arrival Ceremony. To my surprise, I was selected to attend the event as 1 of 100 social media leaders (out of a pool of 2,500 applicants). Today, I took time to reflect on my experiences and came up with 4 Reasons to Love #WHSocial Events.

#WHSocial Meet Up I hosted at the Old Ebbitt Grill on 2/10/14
#WHSocial Meet Up I hosted at the Old Ebbitt Grill on 2/10/14

1) I love #WHSocial events because they gave me a chance to meet, network, and build community with a diverse group of Americans from all over the country. That’s exactly what I did on Monday night when I organized and hosted a meet up for my fellow social media leaders at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

Me and my new #WHSocial BFFs on the White House South Lawn --Photo Credit: Dave McCulloch
Me and my new #WHSocial BFFs on the White House South Lawn –Photo Credit: Dave McCulloch

The next day, I reconnected with my #WHSocial BFFs and made new ones on the South Lawn of the White House, during the briefing with WH staff, and at an impromptu lunch at Cosi’s.

Photo Credit: yours truly -- Social media leaders at #WHSocial briefing with White House staff at EEOB on 2/11/14
Photo Credit: yours truly — Social media leaders at #WHSocial briefing with White House staff at EEOB on 2/11/14
Photo Credit: Yours truly - Impromptu lunch with #WHSocial BFFs
Photo Credit: Yours truly – Impromptu lunch with #WHSocial BFFs

2) I love #WHSocial events because they energized and convinced me to step up my digital citizenship game. Next week, I will begin using my Internet Geek Tuesday blog series to discuss digital citizenship, launch and celebrate Digital Citizenship Month (yep I am creating it) in July to encourage Americans to use their digital presence to get involved and civically engaged at the local and national level, profile #WHSocial leaders and influencers, and discuss WhiteHouse.gov information and WH online engagement efforts.

My Pinterest board of #WHSocial resources
My Pinterest board of #WHSocial resources

3) I love #WHSocial events because they inspired me to use all of my social media platforms to get the word out about President Obama’s activities, policies, and programs. I used Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Storify, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine video app, VoiceBo podcast app, and WordPress to share my #WHSocial adventures this week.

Check out my #WHSocial Pinterest board which contains over 50 pins filled with articles, blog posts, videos, and photos that discuss the French President’s State visit.

I really enjoyed creating Vine videos featuring my fellow social media leaders in action as they prepared for the #WHSocial briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Interviewing my fellow social media leaders with the VoiceBo app was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed using it to give updates about my #WHSocial preparation and reflections.

Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter were probably my most favorite social media tools to use while live tweeting during the #WHSocial events.

Photo Credit: Me and Kori Schulman at #WHSocial briefing at EEOB on 2/11/14
Photo Credit: Me and Kori Schulman at #WHSocial briefing at EEOB on 2/11/14

4) I love #WHSocial events because they gave me an opportunity to meet and talk with WH staff. During the #WHSocial briefing, I asked Kori Schulman, Director of Online Engagement, how the Office of Digital Strategy was leveraging the support of people who have participated in the #WHSocial events. I suggested creating a #WHSocial Ambassador Program. Yesterday, I received an email indicating that a #WHSocial Alumni Program is in the works! And that’s just one more reason to love #WHSocial events!

Next week, I’ll be sharing more about my #WHSocial adventures. So drop by! Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day Weekend!

Having a Nina Simone “Feeling Good” Day After President Barack Obama Signed Healthcare Legislation!

President Obama's signature on 2010 healthcare legislation - Photo Credit: Whitehouse.gov

Greetings All,

This morning I woke up with so much inspiration and energy.  Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” was playing on my inner iPod!

I felt like I did when I woke up on November 5, 2009, the day after we elected President Barack H. Obama to serve as the leader of the United States of America. What a great feeling! America is making history once again by ensuring all Americans have access to good healthcare.  To learn more about what’s in the healthcare legislation, visit Whitehouse.gov’s blog:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/03/23/whats-health-care-bill.

Last night I watched the Whitehouse.gov video of my President signing the healthcare legislation.  What a historical moment! It was huge! Click here to watch the video and read my President’s remarks. See an excerpt of my favorite part of his remarks below.

“Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable.  With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game-playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve.  It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.

But today, we are affirming that essential truth -– a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself –- that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.  (Applause.)  We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust.  We don’t fall prey to fear.  We are not a nation that does what’s easy.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not how we got here.

We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities.  We are a nation that does what is hard.  What is necessary.  What is right.  Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny.  That is what we do.  That is who we are.  That is what makes us the United States of America.

And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.   And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country.”

I know  the healthcare legislation is not perfect. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure universal coverage for everyone and funding for women to have access to federally-funded abortions.  We still have to overcome challenges and kinks that come with new legislation. More change is sure to come. However, we are much better off than we were without healthcare reform. We have something to work with. We have a foundation to move forward. And I am fired up and ready to go! Are you?

What do you think about the healthcare reform legislation?

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Healthcare Reform and President Obama,


PS: My new book That Which Awakens Me (available on Amazon.com) includes a chapter that discusses my reflections on President Obama’s campaign and election.  Here is an excerpt from the chapter.  Enjoy!

The Night Barack Was Elected

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke
Inspired by E. Ethelbert Miller’s City as Memory: Lyrical
City Writing Workshop held at Busboys and Poets on May
3, 2009.

Election night was unseasonably warm in D.C.
Rain sprinkled the pavement as I walked down U Street with
a group of friends.
We wanted to go to Busboys and Poets, but the line was too
long to get in.
So we walked up to 12th Street and parked ourselves around a
table at The Islander, a Caribbean restaurant.
It was filled with Obama supporters.
Everyone was excited.
You could feel the need for great change in the air.
Before the waitress took our group’s order, she gave us Barack
buttons her daughter made.
They were designed with a small picture of his face surrounded
by Caribbean flags.
It was one-of-a-kind election memorabilia.
After we placed our orders, we began monitoring the election
results posted on the television screen.
By the time our dinner entrees arrived, my stomach was filled
with tension.
It made it difficult to enjoy my plantains, spicy fish, cabbage,
and peas and rice.
Flashbacks from the 2000 Presidential election kept popping
up in my mind.
It was post-traumatic Bush stress order.
When dinner was over, I decided I couldn’t take watching the
results as they poured in each hour.
So I said my goodbyes and walked home.
I made a pit stop at Love Café and purchased a cupcake to
celebrate Barack’s win.
It was my way of positively affirming America had changed.
I also wanted to kick the post-traumatic Bush stress order out
of my brain.
During the first couple of hours I was home, I practiced yoga,
meditated, and watched “Young and the Restless” online.
After the show ended, I decided to check CNN.com for
election results.
That’s when I started to get excited.
Barack was leading the race.
Then it happened.
He won, but I didn’t trust the results.
So I called my mother to confirm the news.
When I heard her say that Barack was headed to Grant Park to
give his acceptance speech, I knew the news was true.
I screamed so loud, “Yes We Can,” into the phone.
My excitement continued to build as I ate my Love Café
election cupcake, watched CNN.com for news updates,
and listened to the crowd of people celebrate outside of my
apartment on U Street.
I knew I had to join the party.
So I got dressed and walked out into the biggest celebration I
had ever seen.
Folks of all ages and ethnicities were smiling, crying, singing,
and dancing together.
It was surreal.
We had become the United States of America and made new

Diversity Among African Americans: We are not monolithic!





Photos taken at Oyster Harbor Beach in Annapolis, MD


Happy Monday!

While my dad and I were getting some much needed “plage de temps” (French phrase that means beach time a/k/a chilling out, chill-axing, cooling out, R&R) on Sunday morning in Annapolis, he shared soundbytes from the Washington Post about Judge Sonia Sotomayor and his all-time favorite person, President Barack Obama.  He spent time talking about Eugene Robinson’s op-ed that discussed several comments President Obama made about his speech at the NAACP’s 100th anniversary. Click here to read Robinson’s op-ed:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/18/AR2009071801045.html.


Robinson’s op-ed also referenced President Obama’s statement about how the civil rights movement weakened itself by promoting a one size fits all definition of what it means to be Black: 

“One of the ways that I think that the civil rights movement . . . weakened itself was by enforcing a single way of being black — being authentically black. And, as a consequence, there were a whole bunch of young black people — and I fell prey to this for a time when I was a teenager — who thought that if you were really ‘down’ you had to be a certain way. And oftentimes that was anti-something. You defined yourself by being against things as opposed to what you were for. And I think now young people realize, you know what, being African American can mean a whole range of things. There’s a whole bunch of possibilities out there for how you want to live your life, what values you want to express, who you choose to interact with…  I do think it is important for the African American community, in its diversity, to stay true to one core aspect of the African American experience, which is we know what it’s like to be on the outside… If we ever lose that, then I think we’re in trouble. Then I think we’ve lost our way.”


Love’s Troubadours: Black Folks Ain’t Monolithic by Ananda Leeke (2005)

Message on painting: The truth is that Black folks ain’t monolithic.  No folks are. You dig! When Deno and I started writing the novel, we wanted to show the depth and breadth of Black folks loving themselves and each other in and out of life’s joys and pains … in and out of our identities…gender…class…religions…ages… We wanted to tell the truth.  The truth being that Black folks are Love’s Troubadours.”


I am so happy that President Obama talked about the diversity among African Americans and how being African American means many things.  His statement echoes a familiar chant that I have addressed in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com), Love’s Troubadours Art Collection, and my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (Summer 2009 – iUniverse, Inc.): African Americans are not monolithic.  See the photo of my painting, Love’s Troubadours: Black Folks Ain’t Monolithic above.  The lives of African Americans are filled with multi-layered stories.  We are much more than what we read about in mainstream media.  Our lives are richer and deeper than what we see on television and movie screens.  That’s why we must be vigilant in telling and documenting our stories. 

More on President Obama

Last night I had a chance to catch up on my reading. So I read an op-ed by Shayne Lee, one of my favorite authors. Click here to read Shayne’s op-ed: www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/50451437.html?cmpid=15585797.  In his op-ed that was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 10, Shayne discussed how former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka cleared President Obama’s path to becoming Senator and President.  How could that be?  The topic itself made me blink a few times.  To see why I blinked, read an excerpt from Shayne’s op-ed below.

“Let’s go back to 2004. National Democratic leaders strategize feverishly in an effort to win enough seats to control the U.S. Senate. They have their eyes on Illinois, a state with no incumbent running for reelection. Obama wins the Democratic nomination for the open seat, and the Republican nominee, Jack Ryan, drops out of the race due to the embarrassing details of his divorce records.

Obama is looking down a clear path to the Senate – until Mike Ditka begins flirting with the idea of running on the Republican ticket.

Some Democrats are champing at the bit for their Harvard-educated lawyer to pit wits against the charismatic but nonetheless inarticulate jock. But others fear that the former NFL coach, who brought Chicago its first and only Super Bowl championship, enjoys instant name recognition, while Obama is still establishing himself with Illinois residents. They find the prospect of a young politician with a weird name running against one of the state’s greatest sports legends somewhat daunting.

So, to raise Obama’s visibility, they grant him the great privilege of addressing the 2004 Democratic National Convention in prime time. Ironically, Ditka announces he will not enter the race shortly before the convention. But Obama’s name is already carved in stone on the schedule.

Almost 10 million Americans watch Obama deliver a riveting speech that changes his life and American politics. Before long, Obama is the new face of the party, criss-crossing the nation in fund-raising efforts for struggling candidates, building strategic alliances, and thereby taking steps toward a viable presidential candidacy.

I sum things up with a sort of syllogism: Obama’s presidential run is unimaginable without the political power and rock-star status bestowed upon him by his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His speech never happens without a sports legend threatening to run against him for the vacant Illinois Senate seat. Therefore, Barack Obama would not be president today without Mike Ditka.

There is a lesson to be learned from the president’s remarkable journey. Even an immensely gifted, highly competent, Ivy League-trained talent such as Obama needs a bit of luck to achieve great success in America. How much more of it do the rest of us need”?

Okay now what do you think? 

If you are like me, you might be saying, “this cat made me think.”  That’s why I am a huge fan of Shayne’s work.  His writing always pushes the envelope and causes me to consider a different perspective.  He uncovers facts and weaves them together with insightful commentary that sheds light on areas most folks miss.  I think Shayne moonlights as an “Easy Rawlins” detective when he leaves his gigs as an author, sociologist, and professor at Tulane University.  

For more information about Shayne, visit http://www.tulane.edu/~sociol/slee.pdf

Be sure to check out and buy Shayne’s books on Amazon.com: T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher (NYU Press, 2005) and Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace (NYU Press 2009).  Support Shayne!  His work will enrich your life! 

To read my review of Shayne’s book, T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher, click here: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-review-td-jakes-americas-new.html.  

Visit BAP Living Radio to listen to a recording of my February 23rd interview with Shayne (search for Episode 13):  http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/18598.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace and Creativity,


African American Art at the White House and in Ananda’s Debut Novel, Love’s Troubadours -Karma: Book One


Cut by Kara Walker – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Walker


Happy Saturday!

I read a great post on Black Visual Artist’s blog that featured an article by Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History & Culture. It discussed African American art, one of my passions and a major subject area in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com). Click here to read the post: http://blackvisualartist.blogspot.com/2009/07/african-american-art-still-needs.html.  The article was published in the July/August 2009 issue of The Art Newspaper: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/African-American-art-still-needs-support/18560

I enjoyed reading about how President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have launched the White House campaign to bring greater diversity to its art collection—including more works by African American artists.  I agree with Conwill’s assessment that the Obamas’ efforts are having “a catalytic effect—stirring conversation, raising expectations. And that’s a good thing. The move is also throwing a strong light on African American art and the artists who create it.”  Several of the artists that Conwill mentions such as Kara Walker, Betye Saar, and Lorna Simpson are featured in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).  I have included a blurb about the artwork in my novel below.  Enjoy!

Who are some of your favorite African American artists?

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace and Creativity,



African American Art Featured in Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com): 

Art plays a major role in the life and museum curator career of Love’s Troubadours’ main character Karma Francois. It inspires, consoles, and teaches her. Love’s Troubadours offers you a wonderful opportunity to look at life through Karma’s eyes as an art enthusiast and museum curator. Through Karma’s eyes, you will learn about exciting artists and photographers from the African Diaspora, such as Lois Mailou Jones, Kara Walker, Renee Stout, Faith Ringgold, Chris Ofili, Marion Perkins, Elizabeth Catlett, Jean Michel Basquiat, Annie Lee, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Amalia Amaki, Joyce Scott, Lorna Simpson, Eldzier Cortor, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Archibald Motley, Adrian Piper, Hughie Lee Smith, and Charles W. White.  Artists from other countries are also featured.  Click here to read more: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2007/09/blessings-all-my-debut-novel-loves.html.

Are you looking for a great summer read that discusses African American art?  If yes, click here to purchase a copy of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One from Amazon.com:  www.amazon.com/Loves-Troubadours-Karma-Book-One/dp/0595440819/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-2834089-1615222?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192066805&sr=8-1.