The First Lady
First Lady Warns D.C. Graduates Against 'Doubters'
By Robin Givhan
First lady Michelle Obama brought a little church-going fervor along with her personal story when she delivered the commencement address this morning at Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter High School. She began her speech with a single "Hey!" after being introduced by senior Jasmine Williams, who sent Obama a letter in February imploring her -- or the president -- to speak at her graduation, which was held on the campus of Howard University.
Obama explained to the 98 graduating seniors, all of whom are planning to attend college, that she gave only two speeches during this year's commencement season -- the other one was last month at the University of California at Merced. It was important to her, she said, to pick schools that she believed in, but she also knew she wanted to pick a "D.C. public high school because I wanted to celebrate the achievements of students in my new home town."
In her speech, Obama used her background, as a African American girl from a working-class family in Chicago, to connect with the mostly black and Latino students in the class of 2009. Hers was a rousing speech meant to convince already high-achieving minority students that they can accomplish even more, while also empathizing with their worries and insecurities. Don't let doubt turn into fear, she warned them. Don't close yourself off.
Posted at 1:53 PM ET on Jun 3, 2009
The First Lady
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