Meet the 106-Year-Old Woman Who Danced with the Obamas at the White House – Plus, Why She Wants Hillary Clinton to Be the Next President
McLaurin, who met the president and First Lady Michelle Obama in honor of Black History Month, tells PEOPLE she volunteers 40 hours per week as a “foster grandparent” and has been moving and shaking for as long as she can remember.
“Oh yes, ever since I was in my young life, I have [danced],” she says. McLaurin spent many of her dancing days at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., doing a move she called “picking cherries” and even partying with James Brown once, she told The Washington Post during an interview Monday.
Growing up as a young black woman in South Carolina in the early 1900s was not easy for McLaurin, who spent her early years picking cotton and shucking corn, according to the Post. But the Washington, D.C., resident says she can now “die smiling” after she met, danced with and even got a kiss from America’s first black president.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get into the White House and meet the president,” McLaurin tells PEOPLE. “I loved that … I just loved it.”
So did Barack and Michelle, who told the 106-year-old, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” The video of the trio’s dance party quickly went viral and McLaurin became an overnight celebrity. What wasn’t shown on camera: all the smooches she received from the Obamas.
“He kissed me,” she says of the moment she first met Barack. “I think [Michelle] did, too. So she hugged and kissed me. And when he got to speaking, I was sitting, and he came back and gave me another kiss.”
At one point in the video, McLaurin expresses how happy she is to meet the nation’s first black president. Growing up in South Carolina, she says she dealt with racial discrimination throughout her life.
“They’d come in our restaurant, but we couldn’t go in their restaurant,” she says of living in the Segregation era. “They said that wasn’t for us.”
These days, McLaurin spends most of her time volunteering for the Foster Grandparent Program, working with preschoolers and kindergarteners at a public charter school. “Foster Grandparents are role models, mentors and friends to children with exceptional needs,” the Corporation for National and Community Service website says.
Sporting a blue vest and her now-famous smile, McLaurin spends 40 hours a week playing with and “hugging and kissing” the little ones, whom she fondly calls her “children.”
“Oh, my children. I have 14 kids in my class and they are beautiful,” she says. “We play and [they call me] Grandma Virginia and I tell you, I just love those kids. And they love me.”
As for the next president she’d love to meet in the White House?
“Hillary Clinton,” she says. “I think every human being means something in her life, and she tried to help the person that’s less fortunate than the rich person or the person with a lot of money.”
With all the dancing and volunteering and kissing, it’s easy to forget that McLaurin is well over 100 years old. So what’s her secret to staying young at heart?
“I don’t know anything other than treat people like you want to be treated, live the best in your heart and serve the Lord.”