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President Obama and Michelle Obama to speak at SXSW 2016

A first in the festival's history

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

South by Southwest 2016 will host President Barack Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, both of whom will give separate keynotes during the event, the festival's organizers announced today.

President Obama will kick off the show by speaking on March 11, the first day of SXSW 2016. He will be part of a "keynote conversation" with Evan Smith, CEO and editor in chief of the Texas Tribune. Their talk will focus on "civic engagement in the 21st Century before an audience of creators, early adopters and entrepreneurs who are defining the future of our connected lives," according to SXSW.

Michelle Obama will come to SXSW Music on March 16 to speak about the White House's Let Girls Learn initiative, which seeks to help adolescent girls around the world enter school and complete their education.

This is the 30th year of SXSW — the festival began in 1987 — and SXSW 2016 will mark the first time in the event's history that a sitting president and first lady have participated, according to SXSW.

"I can't imagine a better way to celebrate our event's 30th year than to welcome both the President and First Lady to SXSW," said SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson. "As each new generation comes up at SXSW they look for ways they can be of service, and it's important to reflect and support that message. President and Mrs. Obama's visit here will inspire attendees to that purpose."

SXSW 2016 runs from March 11-20 in Austin, Texas.

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