The First Lady spoke to Topeka’s high school graduates Friday night at the Kansas Expocentre.
You really could call it the speech of a lifetime for these high school graduates.
But it was more than just words from the First Lady – it also came with a challenge.
Addressing the Class of 2014 – First Lady Michelle Obama said the landmark Brown V. Board of Education case is still alive.
“I think it’s fitting that we’re celebrating this historic Supreme Court case tonight, not just because brown started right here in Topeka or because Brown’s 60th anniversary is tomorrow, but because I believe that all of you – our soon to be graduates – you are all living breathing legacy of this case,” Obama said.
The First Lady highlighted diversity and how students have learned from each other.
“You’ve debated each other’s ideas. You’ve heard each other’s languages in the hallways – English, Spanish and others all mixed together in a uniquely American conversation.”
Obama said the most important parts of their education have come from their classmates.
“And ultimately that was the hope and dream of Brown,” Obama said.
But the First Lady says – the fight for equality isn’t over yet saying there are still old prejudices.
“We know that today in America too many folks are still stopped on the street because of the color of their skin or they’re made to feel unwelcome because of where they’re from or they’re bullied because of who they love.”
The First Lady told the graduates – it’s up to them to continue fighting stereotypes and making a difference.
“And that’s really my challenge to all of you today – when you encounter folks who still hold the old prejudices because they’ve only been around folks like themselves, when you meet folks who think they know all the answers because they’ve never heard any other viewpoints – it’s up to you to help them see things differently,” Obama said. “And we need your generation to help us break through – we need all of you to ask the hard questions and have the honest conversations because that is the only way we will heal the wounds of the past and move forward to a better future.”
In her speech, the First Lady mentioned a woman, Lucinda Todd, who was the first parent to sign the Brown V. Board of Education lawsuit.
Michelle Obama said Todd’s grand-niece….a woman named, Kristin Jarvis, is the First Lady’s right-hand women in the White House.
After the First Lady’s speech – the crowd gave her a standing ovation with thunderous applause.