First Lady Michelle Obama touted the diversity of the 2016 graduating class of City College in New York by comparing it to her own life and experiences.
“It’s the story that I witness every single day, when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves,” Obama told the 3,000 graduates and their families Friday, adding:
And I watch my daughters–two beautiful, black young women–head off to school–waving goodbye to their father, the President of the United States, the son of a man from Kenya who came here to American–to America for the same reasons as many of you: To get an education and improve his prospects in life.
The first lady also launched a thinly veiled attack on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying, “Some folks out there” don’t value the diversity that City College exemplifies.
“They seem to view our diversity as a threat to be contained rather than as a resource to be tapped,” Obama said. “They tell us to be afraid of those who are different, to be suspicious of those with whom we disagree.”
“Here in America, we don’t give in to our fears,” she added. “We don’t build up walls to keep people out because we know that our greatness has always depended on contributions from people who were born elsewhere but sought out this country and made it their home.”
Obama continued, “They act as if name-calling is an acceptable substitute for thoughtful debate, as if anger and intolerance should be our default state rather than the optimism and openness that have always been the engine of our progress.”
This was the last commencement address of Michelle Obama’s tenure as first lady.
Over the course of its 169-year history, City College became known as the poor man’s Harvard when it began educating displaced Jews and other monitories shut out of elite private colleges.
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