This year's South by Southwest festival will boast a pair of well-known names among the sea of emerging artists and established rockers: Barack and Michelle Obama are scheduled to head to Austin in March to speak at a pair of panels during the fest. President Obama will appear March 11th as part of a Keynote Conversation at SXSW Interactive, while the first lady will deliver the opening keynote at SXSW Music on March 16th. The Obamas' visit marks the first time in the festival's 30-year history that a current president and first lady have participated in the Austin fest.
President Obama will join The Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith for a conversation about civic engagement in the 21st century. During the panel, Obama will call on tech-savvy attendees to apply their ideas to make technology work for us and create ways to tackle issues like climate change. Questions culled from readers of The Texas Tribune will also be presented during the panel.
Michelle Obama will open up SXSW Music on behalf of her Let Girls Learn initiative, with the first lady asking for continued support of girls' education worldwide.
"I can't imagine a better way to celebrate our event's 30th birthday than to welcome both the president and first lady to SXSW," SXSW Co-founder Roland Swenson said in a statement. "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."
While Barack will miss the music side of SXSW, Michelle Obama will be in town to perhaps catch sets from Charli XCX, Thee Oh Sees, Kacey Musgraves, Mercury Rev and hundreds more.