Barack and Michelle Obama attended the 38th annual Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday amid the prime-time Oval Office speech
Obama dipped into the White House’s East Room shortly after hosting a reception for five of the six honorees, Carole King, Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno, George Lucas and conductor Seiji Ozawa – the sixth honoree, The Eagles, have postponed their participation until 2016.
Obama’s speech initially took the 38th annual event off the schedule, USA Today reports. But the ceremony was reinstated on Sunday.
The president’s efforts to both deliver the address and attend the ceremony were not lost on 73-year-old King.
“He has a very important message to give tonight about the terrorists and the gun situation, and it must be weighing on his mind,” King told reporters ahead of the event at Washington D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“And yet he took the time to come and meet us all and introduce us all, and that means a lot to me.”
Between the reception and the event, Obama changed into a dark business suit – out of his tuxedo – and delivered the 13-minute speech, addressing the recent San Bernardino mass shooting and vowing, “We will not be terrorized.”
Beforehand, the president and First Lady Michelle Obama (wearing an Oscar de la Renta gown) arrived at the 38th annual event, hand-in-hand, where they remained into the evening, according to USA Today.
The Kennedy Center honorees sat with the Obamas and enjoyed a performance in their honor.
King further expressed her admiration for Obama ahead of the event, noting that the two “exchanged a few pleasantries.”
“So many people I know have said, ‘Please tell him when you see him that I love him and think he’s doing a great job,’ and I wanted to tell him that because I feel the same way,” she said.