First Lady Urges African American Youth To Challenge Themselves

By: CNN posted by Justin Surrency
By: CNN posted by Justin Surrency
Speaking at the historically black Bowie State University commencement Friday, first lady Michelle Obama called out African American youth for not challenging themselves to excel in school while instead fantasizing about being a "baller or a rapper."

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Inaugural citizen co-chair David Hall on Jan. 17, 2013, ahead of #MLKDay of Service. / Official White House photo

(CNN)__Speaking at the historically black Bowie State University commencement Friday, first lady Michelle Obama called out African American youth for not challenging themselves to excel in school while instead fantasizing about being a "baller or a rapper."

"Today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of Separate But Equal, when it comes to getting an education too many of our young people just can't be bothered," Obama said. "Today instead of walking miles every day to school they're sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV instead of dreaming of being a teacher or lawyer or business leader they're fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper."

Citing her husband, the first lady urged students to "reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white."

The first lady's address also focused heavily on praising the fortitude of leaders in history, such as Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King Jr., and The Little Rock Nine, who fought to improve educational opportunities for African Americans, despite many challenges they faced.

"It is that kind of unwavering determination - that relentless focus on getting an education in the face of obstacles –that's what we need to reclaim, as a community and as a nation. That was the idea at the very heart of the founding of this school," Obama said.

According to a White House press release, the first lady spoke at Bowie State University "because of its legacy as Maryland's oldest historically black university." It was founded in 1865.

Obama's speech is one of many on her tour of graduation speeches this spring. Last Saturday she spoke at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. She will also be addressing high school graduating seniors at the Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School in Nashville Tennessee on Saturday.

The speech took place in front of roughly 600 students on Friday at the Comcast Stadium in College Park, Maryland.


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