First Lady Michelle Obama made several important statements during her commencement speech to the graduating class of Jackson State University. In addition to using her platform to openly criticize Mississippi’s new and controversial anti-LGBT law, Obama also took the speech as an opportunity to defend her husband’s legacy and praise him for always taking the high road.
In her speech, she said of President Obama, “As I’ve walked this journey with Barack, I’ve gotten a pretty good look at what it means to rise above the fray, what it means to set your eyes on the horizon, to devote your life to making things better for those who will come after you.” She continued, “I have seen how, no matter what kind of ugliness is going on at any particular moment, Barack always stays the course.”
Mrs. Obama went on discuss and praise the many accomplishments President Obama has made in his nearly eight years in office, from rescuing the economy to improving health care throughout the nation. She followed up this list of accomplishments by encouraging the graduates to not get sucked in to focusing on the negative.
‘Yet, too often, instead of acknowledging or celebrating this change, we have a tendency to focus on conflict and controversy. We pay endless attention to folks who are blocking action, blocking judges, blocking immigration, blocking a raise in the minimum wage — just blocking. We are consumed with the anger and vitriol that are bubbling up, with folks shouting at each other, using hateful and divisive language.’
Michelle Obama also used this speech as an opportunity to encourage the graduates of the historically black college to respond the way her husband has when faced with criticism. She acknowledged that “The shadows of our past have not completely disappeared. Despite the progress we’ve made, I know so many of you still see these shadows every single day.” She went on to remind the audience that they will continue to face discrimination and need to decide how they are going to deal with it.
‘Are you going to get angry or lash out? Or are you going to take a deep breath, straighten your shoulders, lift up your head, and do what Barack Obama has always done — as he says, ‘When they go low, I go high.’
That’s the choice Barack and I have made. That’s what has kept us sane over the years. We simply do not allow space in our hearts, minds, or souls for darkness.’
The Obamas have faced more than their fair share of discrimination over the last eight years, and it is not only impressive that they have held their heads high in the face of adversity, but that they are encouraging others to do the same.
A portion of Michelle Obama’s speech can be viewed below, courtesy of Up Top Ministries via YouTube.
Featured image via Getty.