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WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address at a democracy summit sponsored by a national, nonpartisan voting organization she helped create, the group announced Wednesday.

The former first lady’s June 13 remarks at the inaugural When We All Vote Democracy Culture Summit in Los Angeles will be her first in-person appearance before a large audience since the COVID-19 pandemic began, organizers said. She last spoke to When We All Vote in person in 2018 ahead of the midterm elections.

Conversations at the June 10-13 summit will center on protecting democracy, combating voter repression and ensuring equal access to the ballot box for November’s midterm elections this fall and the beyond political contests, organizers said.

Artists, athletes, scholars, local organizers, and technology, civic and business leaders are among the 1,500 people expected.

“Democracy isn’t just a box we check every four years,” said Stephanie Young, executive director of When We We All Vote. “Voting must be integrated into all aspects of our culture.”

President Joe Biden invited world leaders to his own Democracy Summit last year to pledge his commitment to democracy around the world, even as the United States faces its own challenges in meeting the ideals democratic of their founders.

Former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to stoke lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Republican-run states used his bogus claims of voter fraud to justify new voting restrictions. Supporters of the former Republican president who deny that Biden, a Democrat, was legitimately elected are running for election administration positions in several states.

In 2018, Mrs. Obama used the considerable influence she had accumulated as first lady to launch When We All Vote to help register eligible voters in the United States.

That fall, she published her memoir, “Becoming,” which became a bestseller, and embarked on a world book tour that drew thousands to her appearances.

Her last big in-person appearance before the pandemic was a February 2020 chat with Oprah Winfrey in New York City that was part of the former TV talk show host’s wellness tour.

Mrs. Obama has isolated herself during the pandemic and, outside of the book tour, has kept a relatively low profile since leaving the White House. She appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show this week.

The former first lady leads When We All Vote with an all-star cast, including actors Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, TV producer Shonda Rhimes, singers Janelle Monae, Jennifer Lopez and HER and professional athletes Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Megan Rapinoe, among others.

Darlene Superville, Associated Press


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