“I didn’t think I’d ever live to see a black president. That’s what made me feel so good,” McLaurin said. “Joy still rings in my heart for that.”
McLaurin is also a big fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and has celebrated her birthday with them each year since becoming a celebrity. She turns 109 on March 12, and marked the occasion Tuesday with a Globetrotters-themed cake and basketball tricks at Brightwood Elementary School in Northwest Washington. The Globetrotters also donated 109 tickets to their games to underprivileged youths in her honor.
Born to sharecroppers in South Carolina in 1909, McLaurin lived in a time when racial segregation was still legal and women did not have the right to vote. Reflecting on her eventful life, she said, “A lot of things happened in my life that I didn’t think would ever happen.”
The White House hosted McLaurin to celebrate Black History Month after friends advocated for the meeting in light of her longtime volunteer work. She was a foster grandmother to city youths for more than 20 years.
When asked what the secret is to such a long life, McLaurin said, “Just being nice and loving people is the best I know how.”