WDSU 6 News
First lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement speech at Dillard University’s graduation ceremony Saturday.
“I know that some of you may come from tough neighborhoods, some of you may have lost your homes during Katrina,” Obama said in her address.
Two-hundred-twenty-six people graduated from Dillard University in spring 2014.
Obama addressed a cheering crowd of thousands in the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena.
Obama acknowledged Dillard’s rich history in her address, which stretches back to 1826. The school has withstood segregation, depression, threats of violence and floods. Obama told graduates they are following in the footsteps of those who have gone before them.
“We’re the lucky ones and we can never forget that we didn’t get where we are today all on our own,” Obama said. “We got here today because of so many people who toiled and sweat and bled and died for us.”
With Dillard’s valedictorian and three salutatorians originally from Nigeria, Obama called attention to the mounting crisis of almost 280 Nigerian girls missing for weeks.
“(The girls were) kidnapped from their own school for wanting an education,” she said. “Young people who are knowingly risking their lives every day just to go to school.”
Obama graduated from Chicago Public Schools, Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She urged graduates to achieve more.
“You should be so proud and so happy and so excited about your futures, but what you shouldn’t be is satisfied,” she said.
Obama cited statistics of low high school and college graduation rates among many African Americans, along with high unemployment, poverty and incarceration rates.
“When our young people fall behind like that in school, they fall behind in life,” she said.
Obama ended her address by challenging graduates to write their own chapter into the Dillard University legacy.
“This is your obligation,” Obama said. “I want you to keep reaching higher. I want you all to keep raising your bars, let the next generation know that there is no greater investment than a good education.”