First Lady Dr. Jill Biden Hosts Luncheon for Ten First Ladies from the African Diaspora

These first ladies showed up and represented the diaspora well.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted 10 first ladies from Africa for the second day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Spousal Program at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

According to sources, Dr. Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff hosted the luncheon centered around African diaspora, welcoming first ladies from Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Eswatini, Gabon, Liberia, Ghana, Namibia, and Sierra Leone.


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In a statement, Vanessa Valdivia, the First Lady’s press secretary, said Dr. Biden was “intentional and thoughtful about the design of the spousal program, purposefully creating opportunities for connection and dialogue.”

“From hosting a conversation about barriers to cancer services to featuring Chef Mashama Bailey and Gladys Knight at the dinner, to including historian and author Jessica B. Harris for the spousal luncheon, the First Lady wanted to highlight the role of spouses and our shared priorities, cultures and traditions throughout the summit.”

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 14: U.S. singer Gladys Knight waves to U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden before performing in the State Dining Room for U.S. President Joe Biden and guests on December 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. The President is hosting the leaders of African nations attending the U.S-Africa Summit for a dinner and reception at the White House. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“This special place really preserves the memory of some of our nation’s darkest moments. But it also features some of what is the best to come in the United States,” said Biden. “I brought you here because I wanted to really explore and celebrate the shared cultures and traditions that connect us…and strengthen our relationships today,” the statement continued.

Author and culinary scholar Dr. Jessica B. Harris, the writer, editor, and translator of 12 cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African diaspora, was invited to give remarks during the luncheon.

“Our food is the way we share ourselves and the way we share love,” said Harris. “We traditionally share it with an open hand and generosity of spirit that is so lavish as to have startled European explorers and travelers in the United States and throughout the continent’s diaspora in this hemisphere. Our food is one of the most powerful of our connectors, and it is the one that brings us here today.”