Michelle Obama: College Graduates Must Help Others Reach That Goal

Career College Central summary:

  • First Lady Michelle Obama told New Orleans' Dillard University graduates Saturday they were like her: success stories who, in graduating from college, beat the long odds facing many young African-Americans. But she also challenged them to help the next generation of young people reach the same goal. "Today I stand before a sea of young geniuses. Oh, yeah," Obama said, to cheers. "But what you shouldn't be is satisfied."
  • She spoke at the Lakefront Arena in front of a crowd thrilled by the first lady's interest in a small university. Senior class president Nicole Tinson convinced Obama to speak by writing to her and saying it would highlight the ongoing significance of historically black institutions.
  • During her New Orleans visit, Obama also met privately with a group of military spouses. In her commencement speech, Obama highlighted the history of black higher education in New Orleans. When Dillard broke ground for its library in the 1930s, Howard University's then-president invoked "many a black genius" who was "lying in unmarked graves" due to the inability to go to college, Obama said.
  • She cited the ongoing racial gap in graduation rates and the dismal unemployment rates among black men. In 2011, 52 percent of black male New Orleanians were out of work. "You might think, 'Those numbers are terrible. But I'm not part of the problem,'" she said. "And you might think that because you're not one of those statistics … you can go on our way and never look back. But folks like you and me, we can't afford to think like that."

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