(CNSNews.com) - First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a film workshop for a select group of students at the White House on Tuesday.
The event honored the cast and crew of the new movie "42" about baseball great Jackie Robinson, and it included Robinson's 90-year-old widow Rachel and actors Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman as the guests of honor.
"I know sometimes it's hard to know how are you supposed to act in the White House," Mrs. Obama told the students. "Everybody is sitting with their -- just loosen up, loosen up. It's okay," she said.
"I want to thank Harrison Ford -- I've wanted to say that for a while. (Laughter.) Harrison Ford. So you think you trip because I'm here? I'm trippin' out because he's here. And look at this stage -- Mr. Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman -- he's as cute as he was in the movie. Just admit it."
At a time when most Americans -- many students among them -- have been shut out of the White House because of the sequester, this group was warmly welcomed:
"I want to make sure that you all know how welcome you are here in this house, because the truth is we do these things -- we make sure that we do these workshops so that you all know that this is your house, too," Mrs. Obama said. "So we want you to make yourselves at home. We want you to feel good and relaxed and learn and ask questions, okay?"
Mrs. Obama said she and the president watched "42" over the weekend: "It was just us, because our girls were away (reportedly skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho). "And they are definitely going to watch this movie. We think that everybody in this country needs to watch this movie. And I can say with all sincerity that it was truly powerful for us. I don't know about you, but we walked away from that just visibly, physically moved by the experience of the movie, of the story."
It wasn't just the acting -- it was the "raw emotion," she said, admitting that she got "mad" watching the film: "I mean, watching anyone go through what Jackie and Rachel Robinson did -- the outright discrimination they encountered at every turn, from the fans in the stadium to the airport receptionist, even from some of his own teammates. And you're left just asking yourselves, how on Earth did they live through that? How did they do it? How did they endure the taunts and the bigotry for all of that time?"
Mrs. Obama noted "How far removed that way of life seems today."
"I mean, there's work to be done, but things have changed. Major League Baseball is fully integrated. You can't imagine the baseball league not being integrated. There are no more "Whites Only" signs posted anywhere in this country. Although it still happens, it is far less acceptable for someone to yell out a racial slur while you're walking down the street -- it still happens, but not tolerated. That kind of prejudice is simply just not something that can happen in the light of day today."
Before leaving the room, Mrs. Obama told the students that "we're going to have a screening for a bunch of fancy people somewhere later on down the line," but first she wanted the children to see the movie -- "because this isn't just about watching a wonderful movie about an important moment in history, this is about helping all of you believe that you can write your own history."