Michelle Obama Tells Grads Not to Let Hate and Insults Stand in Their Way

In her commencement speech to the graduating class, the first lady shared what she has overcome at the White House and encouraged members of the senior class to have faith in themselves.

First lady Michelle Obama delivers the commencement address at Tuskegee University May 9, 2015.
First lady Michelle Obama delivers the commencement address at Tuskegee University May 9, 2015. Youtube screenshot   

Editor’s note: First lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the graduating class at Tuskegee University Saturday, May 9, 2015, was transcribed by the White House.

Mrs. Obama: Thank you all. [Applause.] Thank you so much. [Applause.] Let’s let our graduates rest themselves. You’ve worked hard for those seats! [Applause.]

Let me start by thanking President Johnson for that very gracious introduction and for awarding me with this honorary degree from an extraordinary institution. I am proud to have this degree—very proud. [Applause.] Thank you. Thank you so much. [Applause.]

I want to recognize Major General Williams; Congresswoman Sewell; Zachary; Kalauna; to all of the trustees, the faculty, the staff here at Tuskegee University. Thank you—thank you so much for this warm welcome, this tremendous hospitality. And I’m so glad to be here. [Applause.]  

Before I begin, I just want to say that my heart goes out to everyone who knew and loved Eric Marks Jr. I understand he was such a talented young man, a promising aerospace engineer who was well on his way to achieving his dream of following in the footsteps of the Tuskegee Airmen. And Eric was taken from us far too soon. And our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with his family, his friends and this entire community. [Applause.]  

I also have to recognize the Concert Choir. Wow, you guys are good! Well done! [Applause.] Beautiful song. [Applause.] And I have to join in recognizing all the folks up in the stands—the parents, siblings, friends—[applause]—so many others who have poured their love and support into these graduates every step of the way. Yeah, this is your day. [Applause.] Your day. [Applause.]  

Now, on this day before Mother’s Day, I’ve got to give a special shout-out to all the moms here.  [Applause.] Yay, moms! And I want you to consider this as a public service announcement for anyone who hasn’t bought the flowers or the cards or the gifts yet—all right?  I’m trying to cover you.  [Laughter.] But remember that one rule is “Keep Mom happy.” [Laughter.] All right? [Applause.]  

And finally, most of all, I want to congratulate the men and women of the Tuskegee University Class of 2015! [Applause.] T-U!

Audience: You know!

Mrs. Obama: I love that. [Applause.] We can do that all day. [Laughter.] I’m so proud of you all. And you look good. [Applause.] Well done!