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Michelle Obama hour

  • First lady Michelle Obama smiles during a reception for Ireland's prime minister in the East Room of the White House on March 19.
First lady Michelle Obama smiles during a reception for Ireland's… (Getty Images )
April 09, 2013|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

It's yet another homecoming for Michelle Obama.

The first lady will return to Chicago on Wednesday, this time to tackle the subject of youth violence. In a luncheon hosted by Mayor Emanuel and members of the city's business community, Obama will support a campaign to raise $50 million for programs that aid at-risk youth.

When the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton thrust Chicago into the national spotlight, Obama attended the victim's funeral in Chicago, and days later invited Pendleton's parents to the State of the Union address.

The first lady's return to address youth violence comes as the city has seen 36 homicides since Pendleton's death Jan. 29, and 79 for the year through April 8.

"Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago," the title of the luncheon, was spearheaded by Allstate CEO Tom Wilson and Loop Capital CEO Jim Reynolds. The event also is expected to include an action committee of "several leading executives and philanthropists, as well as an advisory committee of community leaders, researchers and criminal justice practitioners who will ensure that input is received from residents in neighborhoods across the city," according to a news release from the city.

The initiative was announced Feb. 20 by Emanuel, with Allstate pledging $5 million over five years toward the goal.

The intent of the project is to encourage private donations to fund programs and community efforts that aim to stem youth violence.

"We are honored to have the first lady's support in this effort," Emanuel said in the release.

Memphis Soul

FLOTUS played host to Justin Timberlake, Mavis Staples, Ben Harper and other big names Tuesday for an installment of the concert series "In Performance at the White House." The concert, which also included Alabama Shakes, celebrated the soul music of Memphis, and was broadcast live online, according to billboard.com.

In with a bang

#midlifecrisis. The first lady christened a new twitter account—@FLOTUS—in January, using her second tweet to reveal a fresh hairstyle complete with BANGS. The tweet was shared more than 600 times, and it spawned parody Twitter accounts such as @FirstLadyBangs. She said the cut was her "midlife crisis" in an interview with Rachael Ray a month later.

Healing wounds

Days after attending President Obama's inauguration in February, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago. As Pendleton became the national face of victims of gun violence in the city, Michelle Obama flew to Chicago to attend her funeral Feb. 9. Two days later, the White House announced that Hadiya's parents, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel Pendleton, would be the first lady's guests at the State of the Union address.

The shade seen ’round the world

The FLOTUS achieved meme status for the unmistakably annoyed eye roll (1) directed at Speaker of the House John Boehner during a post-inauguration luncheon in January. It's rumored that Boehner made a crack about her husband's former smoking habit, prompting a video and animated .gif of the "shame on you" shade throw to go viral. Whatever the quip is, if Obama doesn't approve, the eyes will let you have it.

Talk of the talk shows

She's challenged Ellen DeGeneres to a pushup contest (2), did some "Mom Dancing" with Jimmy Fallon (3) and dreamed of being able to go to CVS to pick up some toiletries as a civilian again on Jimmy Kimmel's show. On late night or daytime, Obama has become a veteran of the talk-show circuit. There's even speculation she could host her own show post-White House, with several TV execs telling the Daily Mail last year that the first lady is a natural.

Fashion queen

An image of Obama sporting a crown on a first-class British stamp—a spot typically reserved for royalty—was the cover of Britain's Sunday Times Magazine (4) dated March 10. The style issue crowned the first lady as part of its best dressed list.

Fashion crime?

Not everyone's a fashion fan, however. Designer Oscar de la Renta helped dress quite a few first ladies, but not Obama, who has never worn his label. Despite accessories she dons quickly selling out, de la Renta later was critical of the first lady's fashion: "... an anonymous woman on the street is the woman who influences fashion today, not a movie star or a first lady," he told The Associated Press. He has been a noted critic of the first lady's fashion choices, and he also told AP their relationship began "poorly" and he expects it to end that way.

Get moving

Since 2010, "Let's Move!" has been a major initiative for the first lady. Aimed at ending childhood obesity, the program has toured the country promoting healthy eating and exercise. Obama got a group of CPS students moving on Feb. 28 at McCormick Place (5) to launch "Active Schools," a campaign encouraging schools to promote more physical activity for students.

Joining forces

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