*First Lady Michelle Obama brought more than a typical commencement speech to this year’s graduating class at Jackson State University as she offered a bit of inspiration while slamming Mississippi’s ‘Religious Freedom’ bill.
ABC News reports that Obama delivered the speech Saturday (April 23) at the Mississippi-based institution.
“We see it right here in Mississippi — just two weeks ago -– how swiftly progress can hurtle backward,” the first lady said. “How easy it is to single out a small group and marginalize them because of who they are or who they love.”
Obama’s comment came after she recalled Mississippi and JSU’S stained history regarding civil rights.
“So we’ve got to stand side by side with all our neighbors –- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender; Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu immigrant, Native American — because the march for civil rights isn’t just about African Americans, it’s about all Americans,” she said.
“It’s about making things more just, more equal, more free for all our kids and grandkids. That’s the story you all have the opportunity to write. That’s what this historic university has prepared you to do.”
Obama’s commencement speech comes amid growing criticism leveled at Mississippi from human rights organizations and businesses over the “religious freedom” law. For them, the controversial law restricts the rights of the LGBT community.
The issue was referenced in a press conference Friday in the United Kingdom, as President Barack Obama said the “religious freedom” bill “should be overturned,” when asked about a recent travel advisory to British LGBT citizens cautioning them of the newly passed law.
Touching on the her husband’s history of heated political battles as president, the first lady urged students not to fall into disarray over the “anger and vitriol” that is found in the political environment.
“We pay endless attention to folks who are blocking action, blocking judges, blocking immigration, blocking a raise in the minimum wage. Just blocking,” Obama said. “We are consumed with the anger and vitriol that are bubbling up, with folks shouting at each other, using hateful and divisive language.”
As she continued her speech, Obama touched on the vitriol directed at her husband during his stint as president. Among the drama is the “birther” conspiracy theory that was widely promoted by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump just five years ago.
“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. I have seen how, no matter what kind of ugliness is going on at any particular moment, Barack always stays the course” she told JSU students and others in the crowd.
“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! Charges that he doesn’t love our country. The time he was called a liar in front of a Joint Session of Congress. The nonstop questions about his birth certificate and his belief in God” she continued, in a not-so-subtle shot at the conservatives who have spent the last eight years trying to tear down the President and slander every one of his remarkable achievements – which President Obama always rises above.”
To see the first lady’s JSU commencement speech, check out the video blow: