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When 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin danced with delight at achieving her wish of finally meeting President Obama, it was a joyous milestone for a woman who has lived through some of the darkest times in our nation's history.
McLaurin's exuberant, impromptu dance party with the president and first lady Michelle Obama on Sunday during a Black History Month reception captivated hearts after the White House posted video of the encounter.
It marked a high point in a life that began in 1909 in segregated South Carolina.
"It's unbelievable,'' McLaurin told Hoda Kotb on TODAY Tuesday. "I never thought I'd be this famous. Why didn't they do this when I was young?"
The daughter of a sharecropper, McLaurin was already married at 14 and had two children with her first husband.
By the time she was 17, her husband had died, and she moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a nanny.
At 55, after two more marriages, she decided she needed a career change and became a seamstress.
She still works 40 hours a week, volunteering as a foster grandparent to elementary school children.
And she still lives in the nation's capital, only three miles from the White House, where she finally achieved her dream of meeting the president.
"When I got to him, I was so happy,'' she said. "I started dancing, and I said, 'I'm here to represent Black History Month.'''
McLaurin said she was filled with pride when Obama became the nation's first African-American president in 2008.
"I said I didn't think it would ever happen, but it sure did happen, and I got a chance to see it,'' she said.
After the visit, it was clear the first couple was taken with McLaurin's charm.
"I want to be like you when I grow up,'' Michelle Obama told her.
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