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    MSNBC's Coverage on YouTube - Commencement 2014 PDF Print E-mail
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    Michelle Obama's message for graduates
    First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Dillard University's commencement in
    New Orleans, urging graduates to press on in the face of adversity.

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    Carmen Group, Inc.

    Congratulations to client Dillard University's class of 2014. First Lady Michelle Obama inspired and challenged 226 graduates in Saturday's ceremony:

    "This is your obligation. I want you to keep reaching higher. I want you all to keep raising your bars, letting the next generation know that there is no greater investment than a good education."

    Michelle Obama in New Orleans: College graduates must help others reach that goal

    by Danielle Dreilinger, | The Times-Picayune 
    on May 10, 2014

    First Lady Michelle Obama told New Orleans' Dillard University graduates Saturday they were like her: success stories who, in graduating from college, beat the long odds facing many young African-Americans. But she also challenged them to help the next generation of young people reach the same goal.

    "Today I stand before a sea of young geniuses. Oh, yeah," Obama said, to cheers. "But what you shouldn't be is satisfied."

    She spoke at the Lakefront Arena in front of a crowd thrilled by the first lady's interest in a small university. Senior class president Nicole Tinson convinced Obama to speak by writing to her and saying it would highlight the ongoing significance of historically black institutions.
    During her New Orleans visit, Obama also met privately with a group of military spouses.
    In her commencement speech, Obama highlighted the history of black higher education in New Orleans. When Dillard broke ground for its library in the 1930s, Howard University's then-president invoked "many a black genius" who was "lying in unmarked graves" due to the inability to go to college, Obama said.

    She cited the ongoing racial gap in graduation rates and the dismal unemployment rates among black men. In 2011, 52 percent of black male New Orleanians were out of work. 
    "You might think, 'Those numbers are terrible. But I'm not part of the problem,'" she said. "And you might think that because you're not one of those statistics ... you can go on our way and never look back. But folks like you and me, we can't afford to think like that."
    She reminded the students how their parents and grandparents worked so that they might succeed. "The only way to pay back that debt is by making the same kind of sacrifices and investments for the next generation," Obama said.

    She recalled how her own mother, who never went to college, volunteered at Obama's school every day, making sure the teachers and administrators did their jobs. Though her mother's omnipresence embarrassed her as a child, "looking back, I have no doubt that my classmates and I got a better education because she was there looking over their shoulder," she said.
    Obama evoked the throngs of students who flooded two colleges that preceded Dillard after the Civil War, part of a spate of new Southern institutions for former slaves who were finally free to learn. She quoted from a speech the Rev. Emperor Williams made at the Uptown groundbreaking of New Orleans University, one of those colleges.

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    WWLTV - First Lady Michelle Obama delivers Dillard commencement PDF Print E-mail
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    Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News

     NEW ORLEANS -- First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage at Dillard University's commencement charging students to continue their education.

    "Today I stand before a sea of young geniuses. We are the lucky ones. We can't forget that we didn't get here today on our own. We got here because of so many people who toiled and sweat and bled for us."

    The First Lady delivered the speech before a packed Lakefront Arena.

    It was the secondary place to hold the ceremony after heavy rains soaked the campus yard.

     She touched on several issues such as slow-rising black graduation rates and the situation in Nigeria where more than 200 young girls are missing.

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 First Lady Michelle Obama Urges Dillard Grads to 'Stay Hungry for Education' PDF Print E-mail
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    "Today, I stand before a sea of young geniuses.  Oh, yeah," said First Lady Michelle Obama in her commencement speech to the graduates of Dillard University in New Orleans on May 10. "And you should be so proud, and so happy, and so excited about your futures. But what you shouldn’t be is satisfied."

    Throughout her remarks, which included several references to the HBCU's history and its legacy, the enormous sacrifices of those who fought for educational opportunities for Blacks in Louisiana and the obstacles that even some of the graduates overcame to get to their big day, the first lady stressed how important education is. She also urged them to not lose their hunger for higher education and to help others reach that goal, despite many ongoing challenges in African-American and other communities, such as "structural inequality, schools that lag behind, workplace and housing discrimination."

    "That’s still no excuse to stand on the sidelines. Because we know that today, education is still the key to real and lasting freedom — it is still true today," Obama said.  "So it is now up to us to cultivate that hunger for education in our own lives and in those around us."

    The first lady also noted the sacrifice and enormous risks young people around the world have been willing to take to get an education, like the 16-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was nearly assassinated for her advocacy, and the Nigerian girls who've been abducted by an extremist group that vehemently opposes education.

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    First lady Michelle Obama gives commencement speech at Dillard University PDF Print E-mail
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    WDSU 6 News

    NEW ORLEANS —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.”

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