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Michelle Obama urges grads to vote to protect civil rights

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    First lady Michelle Obama speaks about her husband, President Barack Obama and the criticism he has withstood during his two terms as she delivers the commencement address for Jackson State University’s Class of 2016 at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss.

JACKSON, Miss. >> First lady Michelle Obama told graduates of a historically black university in Mississippi on Saturday that “the power of voting is real and lasting” and they need to cast ballots to protect civil-rights advances made by previous generations.

She said many young African-Americans have disenfranchised themselves because only about 20 percent of them voted in the 2014 midterm elections.

“You can hashtag all over Instagram and Twitter, but those social medial movements will disappear faster than a Snapchat if you’re not also registered to vote,” Obama told an estimated 35,000 people, including 800 graduates of Jackson State University.

She said if people fail to exercise the fundamental right to vote, rights will be under threat.

“Congress will still be gridlocked. Statehouses will continue to roll back voting rights and write discrimination into the law,” Obama said. “We see it right here in Mississippi, just two weeks ago, how swiftly progress can hurdle backward, how easy it is to single out a small group and marginalize them because of who they are or who they love.”

A bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Phil Bryant says workers can cite their own religious opposition to same-sex marriage to deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. It becomes law July 1.

“We’ve got to stand side by side with all of our neighbors — straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, immigrant, Native American,” Obama said. “Because the march for civil rights isn’t just about African-Americans. It’s about all Americans.”

She noted that Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, where she spoke under clear blue skies, was built in the 1950s and was only used by white football teams until 1967, when Jackson State and Grambling State became the first black teams to play there. She also noted that in 1962, the stadium was the site of “what was essentially a pro-Jim Crow rally” with University of Mississippi fans waving Confederate flags and singing a song called, “Never, No Never” to protest the admission of the university’s first black student.

Obama cited the names of Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old from Chicago who was killed in Mississippi in 1955 for whistling at a white woman, and Medgar Evers, a state NAACP leader assassinated in Jackson in 1963.

Obama has spoken at a historically black college or university each year since her husband became president, the White House said. Her appearance at Jackson State is one of three commencement addresses she will make this year. The others are May 26 at the Santa Fe Indian School and June 3 at the City College of New York campus in Harlem.

She and President Barack Obama socialized with members of the British royal family Friday in London.

“I may be a little bit jet lagged, but I’m here right now to celebrate with all of you,” she said in Mississippi.

The university awarded her an honorary doctorate degree before her speech. Noting the school mascot, she won applause from the crowd as she said: “Hey, y’all. I’m a Tiger now.”

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  • Complete fricken’ lunatic, just like her husband. Of course she has to speak to a historically black university because this allows the administration to up the black race-game. You won’t ever see Michelle speaking at a multi-racial institution, or one where the average IQ is somewhere above 47.

    • What Michelle didn’t tell the crowd was that “straight ” people have rights too. Religious people have rights, or I should say, had them before this administration. In America Michelle, we have the right to freely practice our religion. In your version of America, the people only have the right to freely practice what you loons on the left say is okay. Nobody should be forced to condone behavior just because you lunatics on the extreme left say so. Wake-up America! The Democratic party has become the most dangerous threat facing America. Far more dangerous than ISIS. They have started to destroy the fabric of our constitution. This upcoming election will determine just how long this nation stands.

  • Regarding:
    “Michelle Obama told graduates of a historically black university in Mississippi”.

    Where are the WHITE historically universities ?
    Ohhh… I get it, that would be “racist” wouldn’t it ?

    • Actually, almost all universities are historically white. It’s unfortunate that you don’t know anything about history. Not so long ago, black students were not permitted to attend white colleges, so they were forced to start and operate their own. I wouldn’t expect a racist imbecile like you to know that, so don’t feel bad.

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