Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

First Lady Michelle Obama: Commencement Address to Dillard University

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

First Lady Michelle Obama: Commencement Address to Dillard University

Article excerpt

On May 10, 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the Dillard University class of 2014 commesement address to a cheering crowd of thousands at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena. The following is the text of her presentation. Mrs. Obama is a product of the Chicago public school system. She studied African American Studies and Sociology at Princeton University, and in 1988, she graduated from Harvard Law School. With Dillard's valedictorian and three salutatorians originally from Nigeria, Obama called attention to the April kidnapping of at least 223 girls in Nigeria. Dillard University is a private, historically African American liberal arts institution in New Orleans, Louisiana, established in 1930.

Mrs. Obama: Oh, my goodness! Good morning!

Audience: Good morning.

Mrs. Obama: I am so happy to be here with you all. I'm proud to be here in the Big Easy. Look at you all! (Applause.) You look good.

Student: You do too!

Mrs. Obama: Thank you. (Laughter.) I want to start by thanking Nicole for that very kind introduction and for sharing her story, which is not too unfamiliar to me - because they told me I couldn't be where I am, too. So I want to thank Nicole. I'm proud of her. Thank you for the selfie; I think that's the first selfie I've done at a commencement. So, Nicole, you're my first. (Laughter.)

And of course, I want to thank the Dillard University Choir. Oh, oh, oh! (Applause.) Oh! That's all I can say. It's like you want to start something up in here, right? (Laughter.) It's like, now we got a commencement going on up in here. (Laughter.) That was beautiful, beautiful. Thank you so much.

I also want to recognize Senator Mary Landrieu, who is here. Let's give her a hand. (Applause.) She has been a strong supporter of this university.

I want to thank the Dillard University Board of Trustees. I want to thank the faculty, the staff, and, of course, your tremendous president, Dr. Walter Kimbrough. (Applause.) Now, my husband has been called a few things over the years, but he has never had the honor of being referred to as the "Hip Hop President." (Applause.)

I also want to thank all the folks from the University of New Orleans for hosting us here today. And I know they're hosting the folks at Southern University at New Orleans for their commencement later on today as well, so we wish them a wonderful day. And thank you for having us. (Applause.)

And of course, I've got to give a big shout-out to all the family members in the crowd, all of the family members - (applause) - especially to the mothers, because it is the day before Mother's Day. To all the mothers, Happy Mother's Day. (Applause.)

Now, graduates, you all handled your business, right? Just because you were graduating didn't mean you - come on, now. (Laughter.) Okay, well, if you didn't, you have my permission to get up and go right now, because there is nothing more important - no, no, don't get up. (Laughter.) Your mothers would kill you if you got up at this moment. (Laughter.) So just stay in your seats, and when this is all over make sure you take care of mom.

But in all seriousness, to all the moms out there - as well as the dads and the grandparents, the uncles, the aunts, the brothers, the sisters, all of you who have helped raise these graduates - you have seen them through their ups and downs, and you have poured your hearts and souls into these men and women. So today is your day, too, and you should be very proud. You really should. (Applause.)

And finally, most of all, I want to congratulate the beautiful and handsome men and women of the Dillard University Class of 2014. Yay! (Applause.) You all have come so far, I know, to make it to this day - from all those early days when the girls were sneaking out of Williams Hall to go see the boys over at the Duals - oh yeah, I did my research - (laughter) - to all those tests you crammed for, to the plans you're making now for your careers, to go on to graduate school. …

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