Former President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama likely did not foresee Dr. Seuss becoming persona non grata in President Biden’s White House when they highlighted his work to interns and children.
Clips of the Obamas praising and quoting the famous author back in 2015 have resurfaced in the wake of the Biden administration stripping his name from Read Across America Day.
In an April 2015 filmed meeting between the then-president and White House interns, where he took questions from the group, Obama told the young politicos that “pretty much all the stuff you need to know is in Dr. Seuss.”
“It’s like the Star-Belly Sneetches, you know? We’re all the same, so why would we treat somebody differently just because they don’t have a star on their belly? If I think about responsibility, I think about Horton sitting on the egg up in the tree, while Lazy Mayzie’s flying off, doing whatever she wants. You know what I mean?” the 44th president asked the group of interns, referencing the Seuss classics “The Sneetches” and “Horton Hears a Who.”
“All I’m saying is that as you get older what you will find is that the homespun basic virtues that your Mom, your Dad, or folks you care about or admire, taught you — about hard work, being responsible, being kind, giving something back, being useful, working as a team…turns out that’s all true,” he continued.
The former first lady also spoke highly of the late children’s author during Read Across America Day that same year, reading a copy of “Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You,” a revamped version of the children’s classic “Oh, The Things You Can Do” with added content on the basics of healthy living.
Speaking at a White House event, the first lady told the children in the audience, “You know who saw this book this morning before he got on the helicopter? The president.”
“We love Dr. Seuss in this house,” she continued, holding up a copy of the book.
The birthday of Dr. Seuss, who died in 1991, was chosen by the National Educational Association in 1998 as the date for a new holiday focused on promoting children’s literacy.
This year, President Biden had mentions of Seuss scrubbed from his presidential proclamation after the late author was accused of including “racial undertones” in some of his classic, whimsical tales for children.
Seuss’ work has become the center of controversy recently following a study highlighting a lack of diversity among the author’s characters.
“Of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are forty-five characters of color representing 2% of the total number of human characters,” according to a 2019 study from the Conscious Kid’s Library and the University of California that examined 50 of Dr. Seuss’ books.
Last week, a Virginia school district ordered its teachers to avoid “connecting Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss” because of recent research that allegedly “revealed strong racial undertones” in many of the author’s books.
As controversy continued to swirl, the company that oversees the publishing of Dr. Seuss’s works said it would be scrapping six of the books — “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”