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Michelle Obama's early alienation from the University of Chicago. UC Merced speech transcript


WASHINGTON -- First lady Michelle Obama for the second time has talked about how alienated she was from the University of Chicago when she was growing up on the South Side.

Mrs. Obama commented about her relationship with the U. of C. in a commencement address she delivered Saturday at the University of California, Merced -- echoing remarks she made to children in March at a school here.

The context: Many of the UC Merced graduates were the first in their families to earn college degrees, and Mrs. Obama said, "By using what you have learned here, you can shorten the path perhaps for kids who may not see a path at all.

"I was once one of those kids. Most of you were once one of those kids," and then told the students how she grew up just a few miles from the University of Chicago.

"Yet that university never played a meaningful role in my academic development. The institution made no effort to reach out to me -- a bright and promising student in their midst -- and I had no reason to believe there was a place for me there.

"Therefore, when it came time for me to apply to college, I never ... considered the university in my own backyard as a viable option."

She went on to earn degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law.

Ironically, the U. of C. would become a focal point of her life: She was a high-level administrator at the school and medical center; President Obama taught at the law school for many years; their daughters attended the Lab School; their close friends are on U of C boards and were major presidential campaign fund-raisers and many members of the Obama White House have ties to the institution anchoring Hyde Park.

Emanuel's life lessons

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel keynoted the George Washington University commencement and received an honorary degree.

"Doctor," relished Emanuel, "I just want you to know that you've made one Jewish mother happy in Chicago who spent many a sleepless night wondering what would happen to her middle son."

On a serious note, Emanuel shared with students lessons learned from a traumatic period in his life, when he was bounced as the Clinton White House political director.

"I probably shot off my mouth a few too many times, and I probably picked a few too many fights, and before I knew it, my dream job was hanging by a thread. I was demoted."

Said Emanuel, "But I didn't give up. I didn't quit. I dug in, and I dug deep. I refused to leave. But I did try to act with a little less bravado and a lot more humility."


Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release May 16, 2009


University of California-Merced
Merced, California

2:27 P.M. PDT

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much, Class of 2009. (Applause.) All I can say is wow, and good afternoon, everyone. I am so proud of these graduates. We have to just give them one big round of applause before I start. This is just an amazing day. (Applause.) I want to thank Dick for that lovely introduction. He makes for a good companion when you have to go to an inauguration. (Laughter.) So I'm glad he could be here with me today. I appreciate all that he has done to make this day so very special.

I want to acknowledge a few other people before I begin: Congressman Jerry McNerney, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, Attorney General Jerry Brown, and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. I want to thank you all for your leadership and for being an example of what a life in public service can mean to us all.

And of course I have to thank Chancellor Kang for this incredible welcome, and as well as President Yudof and Provost Keith Alley for all that they've done to help make this event just such a wonderful day for us all.

And to the graduates and their families and the entire community of Merced, I am so pleased, so thrilled, so honored to be here with all of you today. (Applause.)

Now, I know we've got a lot of national press out there, and a few people may be wondering why did I choose the University of California-Merced to deliver my first commencement speech as First Lady. (Applause.) Well, let me tell you something, the answer is simple: You inspired me, you touched me. (Applause.) You know, there are few things that are more rewarding than to watch young people recognize that they have the power to make their dreams come true. And you did just that. Your perseverance and creativity were on full display in your efforts to bring me here to Merced for this wonderful occasion. (Applause.)

So let me tell you what you did. If you don't know, parents, because some of you were involved, my office received thousands of letters and, of course, Valentines cards from students; each and every one of them so filled with hope and enthusiasm. It moved not just me but my entire staff. They came up to me and said, "Michelle, you have to do this." (Laughter.) "You have to go here!" (Applause.)

They were all terrific. Like the one from Christopher Casuga that read, "Dear Mrs. Obama -- Please come to UC Merced's Commencement. We could really use the publicity." (Laughter.) That really touched me.

Or then there was one from Jim Greenwood who wrote not on his behalf but on behalf of his wife and the mother of his two children, who is graduating with us today. (Applause.)

And then there was the one from Andrea Mercado. I think this was one of my favorites. Andrea said that the role of First Lady is -- and I quote -- "the balance between politics and sanity." (Laughter.) Thank you, Andrea, for that vote of confidence. (Laughter.)

I received letters from everyone connected to this university -- not just students, but they came from parents, and grandparents, and cousins, and aunts, and uncles, and neighbors, and friends, all of them telling me about how hard you all have worked and how important this day is for you and for the entire Merced community.

And then there's that beautiful video, the "We Believe" video. Well, let me tell you, it worked, because I'm here! (Applause.)

And I want to thank in particular Sam Fong and Yaasha Sabba and all of the students who launched the "Dear Michelle" campaign. (Applause.) I am honored by your efforts and happy to be with you to celebrate this important milestone.

But I understand that this type of community-based letter writing campaign isn't unique to me. This community, this Merced community, employed the same strategy to help get the University of California to build the new campus here in Merced. (Applause.) Every school kid in the entire county, I understand, sent a postcard to the UC Board of Regents in order to convince them to select Merced, and I just love the fact that some of the graduates sitting this audience today participating were involved in that campaign, as well, and then they used the same strategy to get me here. That is amazing. And what it demonstrates is the power of many voices coming together to make something wonderful happen. And I'm telling you, next year's graduation speaker better watch out, because Merced students know how to get what they want. (Laughter and applause.)

This type of activism and optimism speaks volumes about the students here, the faculty, the staff, but also about the character and history of Merced -- a town built by laborers and immigrants from all over the world: early settlers who came here as pioneers and trailblazers in the late 1800s as part of the Gold Rush and built the churches and businesses and schools that exist; African Americans who escaped slavery and the racism of the South to work on the railways as truck drivers up and down Route 99; Mexican Americans who traveled north to find work on the farms and have since become the backbone of our agricultural industry -- (applause); Asian Americans who arrived in San Francisco and have slowly branched out to become a part of the community in the San Joaquin Valley. (Applause.)

Merced's make-up may have changed over the years, but its values and character have not -- long, hot days filled with hard work by generations of men and women of all races who wanted an opportunity to build a better life for their children and their grandchildren; hardworking folks who believed that access to a good education would be their building blocks to a brighter future.

You know, I grew up in one of those communities with similar values. Like Merced, the South Side of Chicago is a community where people struggled financially, but worked hard, looked out for each other and rallied around their children. My father was a blue-collar worker, as you all know. My mother stayed at home to raise me and my brother. We were the first to graduate from college in our immediate family. (Applause.)

I know that many of you out here are also the first in your families to achieve that distinction, as well. (Applause.) And as you know, being the first is often a big responsibility, particularly in a community that, like many others around our country at the moment, is struggling to cope with record high unemployment and foreclosure rates; a community where families are a single paycheck or an emergency room visit away from homelessness.

And with jobs scarce, many of you may be considering leaving town with your diploma in hand. And it wouldn't be unreasonable. For those of you who come from communities facing similar economic hardships, you may also be wondering how you'll build decent lives for yourselves if you choose to return to those communities.

But I would encourage you to call upon the same hope and hard work that brought you to this day. Call upon that optimism and tenacity that built the University of California at Merced to invest in the future of Merced in your own home towns all across this country. By using what you have learned here, you can shorten the path perhaps for kids who may not see a path at all.

And I was once one of those kids. Most of you were once one of those kids. I grew up just a few miles from the University of Chicago in my hometown. The university, like most institutions, was a major cultural, economic institution in my neighborhood. My mother even worked as a secretary there for several years.

Yet that university never played a meaningful role in my academic development. The institution made no effort to reach out to me -- a bright and promising student in their midst -- and I had no reason to believe there was a place for me there. Therefore, when it came time for me to apply to college, I never for one second considered the university in my own backyard as a viable option.

And as fate would have it, I ultimately went on and accepted a position in student affairs at the University of Chicago more than a decade later. What I found was that working within the institution gave me the opportunity to express my concerns about how little role the university plays in the life of its neighbors. I wanted desperately to be involved in helping to break down the barriers that existed between the campus and the community.

And in less than a year, through that position, I worked with others to build the university's first Office of Community Service. And today, the office continues to provide students with opportunities to help reshape relationships between the university and its surrounding community. Students there today are volunteering in local elementary schools, serving as mentors at high schools, organizing neighborhood watches, and worshiping in local churches.

But you know a little something about working with your community here, don't you, Merced? UC Merced, its faculty and its students seem to already have a handle on this need and it speaks once again to the character of this community. As I learned more about what you have done, I am so impressed with how the students, faculty and the community are collaborating to ensure that every child in this community understands there is a place for them at this big beautiful university if they study hard and stay out of trouble.

For example, there is Kevin Mitchell, a professor in the School of Natural Science, who studies chaos, of all things. He's coordinating a program to bring physicists into local elementary and high schools to help open the eyes of students to the possibility of careers in science.

Then there is Claudia Zepeda, a junior psychology major, who is mentoring students from her high school here. The first in her family to attend college, Claudia works with the Westside Initiative for Leaders, an organization that helps prepare disadvantaged students for college. And because of her help, 10 students from her high school will attend UC Merced this coming fall. That is amazing. (Applause.)

And then there are local leaders like police officer, Nick Navarette -- (applause) -- who coordinates a program that brings about 60 UC Merced students to local elementary schools each week to mentor students from poorer neighborhoods. Nick then brings kids to campus regularly so that they can do something special; see what it's like to be on a college campus, and begin to dream.

And then there is my friend and former law school professor, Charles Ogletree, a product of the Merced public schools. (Applause.) Now, he is an example of how you can bring your skills back. His ambitions took him far away from home, but he has never forgotten where he came from.

Each year, with his help, Merced's high schools are able to hand out scholarships, not just for the best and the brightest students, but also for many students who are just stuck in poverty and simply need a hand up to compete.

So the faculty, the students, local leaders, Merced alumni, everyone here is doing their part to help the children of Merced realize that access to a quality education is available to them as long as they work hard, study hard and apply themselves.

It is this kind of commitment that we're going to need in this nation to put this country back on a path where every child expects to succeed and where every child has the tools that they need to achieve their dreams. That's what we're aiming for. (Applause.) And we're going to need all of you, graduates, this generation, we need you to lead the way.

Now, let me tell you, careers focused on lifting up our communities -- whether it's helping transform troubled schools or creating after-school programs or training workers for green jobs -- these careers are not always obvious, but today they are necessary. Solutions to our nation's most challenging social problems are not going to come from Washington alone. Real innovation often starts with individuals who apply themselves to solve a problem right in their own community. That's where the best ideas come from.

And some pretty incredible social innovations have been launched by young people all across this world.

Teach for America in this country is a great example. It was created by Wendy Kopp as a part of her undergraduate senior thesis in 1989. And now, as a result of her work then, more than 6,200 corps members are teaching in our country's neediest communities, reaching approximately 400,000 students.

And then there's Van Jones, who recently joined the Obama administration, a special adviser to the President on green jobs. Van started out as a grassroots organizer and became an advocate and a creator of "green collar" jobs -- jobs that are not only good for the environment, but also provide good wages and career advancement for both skilled and unskilled workers; jobs similar to the ones being created right here at UC Merced as this green campus continues to grow.

And then one of my heroes, Geoffrey Canada, grew up in the South Bronx. After graduating from Bowdoin and getting his masters at Harvard, he returned to New York City and used his education to ensure that the next generation would have a chance at the same opportunity. Geoffrey's Harlem Children's Zone is a nationally recognized program that covers 100 blocks and reaches nearly 10,000 children with a variety of social services to ensure that all kids are prepared to get a good education.

And in an effort to invest in and encourage the future Wendy Kopps, Van Joneses and Geoffrey Canadas, the Obama administration recently launched the Office of Social Innovation at the White House. The President has asked Congress to provide $50 million in seed capital to fund great ideas like the ones I just described. The Office is going to identify the most promising, results-oriented non-profit programs and expand their reach throughout the country.

And this university is blessed with some of the leading researchers and academics who are focusing already their attention on solving some of our nation's most critical issues, like the energy crisis, global warming, climate change, and air pollution.

And you, the students, the graduates and faculty on this campus, you're capable of changing the world, that's for sure. Where you are right now is no different from where Wendy and Van and Geoffrey were when they graduated, remember that. You too can have this same transformative effect on the community of Merced and our entire nation. We need your ideas, graduates. We need your resourcefulness. We need your inventiveness.

And as the students who helped build this school, I ask you, make your legacy a lasting one. Dream big, think broadly about your life, and please make giving back to your community a part of that vision. Take the same hope and optimism, the hard work and tenacity that brought you to this point, and carry that with you for the rest of your life in whatever you choose to do. Each and every single day, some young person is out there changing the ways -- the world in ways both big and small.

But let me tell you something, as you step out into that big, open world, and you start building your lives, the truth is that you will face tough times, you will certainly have doubts, let me tell you, because I know I did when I was your age. There will be days when you will worry about whether you're really up for the challenge. Maybe some of you already feel a little of that right now. Maybe you're wondering: Am I smart enough? Do I really belong? Can I live up to all those expectations that everyone has of me?

And you will definitely have your share of setbacks. Count on it. Your best laid plans will be consumed by obstacles. Your excellent ideas will be peppered with flaws. You will be confronted with financial strains as your loans become due and salaries fall short of both expectations and expenses. You will make mistakes that will shatter your confidence. You will make compromises that will test your convictions. You will find that there is rarely a clear and direct path to any of your visions. And you will find that you'll have to readjust again and again and again. And there may be times when you wonder whether it's all worth it. And there may be moments when you just want to quit.

But in those moments, those inevitable moments, I urge you to think about this day. Look around you. Look around you. There are thousands and thousands of hardworking people who have helped you get to this point, people who are celebrating with you today, who are praying for you every single day, and others who couldn't be here, for whatever reason. I want you to think of the people who sacrificed for you -- you know that -- family members who worked a third job to get you through, who took on the extra shifts to get you through, who put off doing something important for themselves to get you to this day.

And think about the friends who never got the chance to go to college but were still invested in your success -- friends who talked you out of dropping out, friends who kept you out of trouble so that you could graduate on time, friends who forced you to study when you wanted to procrastinate. (Laughter.)

Most importantly, though, think of the millions of kids living all over this world who will never come close to having the chance to stand in your shoes -- kids in New Orleans whose schools are still recovering from the ravages of Katrina; kids who will never go to school at all because they're forced to work in a sweat shop somewhere; kids in your very own communities who just can't get a break, who don't have anyone in their lives telling them that they're good enough and smart enough to do whatever they can imagine; kids who have lost the ability to dream. These kids are desperate to find someone or something to cling to. They are looking to you for some sign of hope.

So, whenever you get ready to give up, think about all of these people and remember that you are blessed. Remember that you are blessed. Remember that in exchange for those blessings, you must give something back. (Applause.) You must reach back and pull someone up. You must bend down and let someone else stand on your shoulders so that they can see a brighter future.

As advocate and activist Marian Wright Edelman says, "Service is the rent we pay for is the true measure, the only measure of our success." So, graduates, when times get tough and fear sets in, think of those people who paved the way for you and those who are counting on you to pave the way for them. Never let setbacks or fear dictate the course of your life. Hold on to the possibility and push beyond the fear. Hold on to the hope that brought you here today, the hope of laborers and immigrants, settlers and slaves, whose blood and sweat built this community and made it possible for you to sit in these seats.

There are a lot of people in your lives who know a little something about the power of hope. Don't we, parents and grandparents? (Applause.) Look, I know a little something about the power of hope. My husband knows a little something about the power of hope. (Applause.)

You are the hope of Merced and of this nation. And be the realization of our dreams and the hope for the next generation. We believe in you. Thank you so much, and good luck. God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 2:51 P.M. PDT


Yet more whining from the bitter and resentful first lady, who had to settle for Princeton and Harvard Law. Perhaps the admissions department at U of Chicago were so blinded by the powerful glow of her glory shining in their midst that they were afraid to recruit her.

Mrs. Obama's speech touched the heart and soul of the Merced and central valley community. What a gift to UC Merced and my hometown - we are lifting our heads high with pride that she chose Merced. How many kids now can imagine the possibilities of a richer more rewarding life, given her inspirational words. Thank you again for inspiring the students and our community.

Once again, Michelle Obama stretches the truth
a bit. She grew up in Euclid, some 3 miles south
of the University of Chicago, not in the
adjacent Woodlawn neighborhood, which was much
poorer and where the University of Chicago
DID have outreach projects as early as 1963,
the year before Michelle was born. As a
University of Chicago undergraduate, 1963-67,
B.S 1967, I participated in such a project
based in the Woodlawn Methodist Church
(64th and Greenwood). This was the Student
Teacher's Elementary Project, which tutored
about 30 elementary school children in the
Woodlawn area after school. Some 30 university
of Chicago undergraduates participated. I
was treasurer of the project in 1966-7 and
due to my mother's packrat habits, still have
the financial report that I submitted to the
University of Chicago, Coordinator of Recognized
Student Organizations (CORSO) in June of 1967.
The report states that the Student Teachers
elementary project received $400 from CORSO
and an additional $250 from the Rockefeller
Chapel Sunday donations. Since services at the
Rockefeller Chapel were open to the public,
there was nothing preventing the Robinson family
from at least attending services there. So
claiming credit for starting an office of
community affairs in the 1980s ignores various
community activities financed by the University
in the 1960s and 1970s. Just because the Robinson
family chose not to participate in these activities does not mean that they didn't exist

No matter what, there is always someone to be critical of the people who are willing to push for change and be the examples we need for hope for the future of our youth and our country.
Whining? Michele is a strong, intelligent, successful, black woman. Kinda hard for some whose chosen lost the election, but grow up and onward.
There's room for everyone.
God bless Michele Obama and every single student who went the distance.

Could her ungracious remarks be related to her religious schooling in one of the most hate-filled churches in America. Rev. Wright taught victimization and hatred, and she is a mouthpiece for his philosophy.

Could her ungracious remarks be related to her religious schooling in one of the most hate-filled churches in America? Rev. Wright taught victimization and hatred, and she is a mouthpiece for his philosophy. It is also hypocritical for Michelle to demand that others give back, when historically, the Obama gave less than 2% of their income to charity.

Can you believe this garbage? The first lady is crying over the University of Chicago not reaching out to HER? Who cares. Once again the Obamas only talk about how the world must recognize them. Why didn't Michelle Robinson Obama reach out to the University of Chicago and say, I am here and I can contribute to your academic community. Ooops...I forgot, that would require individualism something the Obamas don't like. Also, if you ever read Michelle Obama's Princeton thesis, you would understand why they didn't reach out to her. This is shoddy scholarship at best and the writing is awful.

Lynn Sweet wrote, quoting Michelle Obama, "By using what you have learned here, you can shorten the path perhaps for kids who may not see a path at all." What exactly does this mean? Does "who" refer to the students or the graduates of UC Merced? And if "they" - whoever "they" are, use what they have learned (at UC Merced), perhaps, an unseen path can be shortened? An unseen path to what? How can a pathway that is not known be traveled and shortened? A Harvard Law graduate should be able to articulate this a bit better.

Mrs. Obama is also quoted as saying, "Therefore, when it came time for me to apply to college, I never ... considered the university in my own backyard as a viable option." I am confused as to why Mrs. Obama would not consider UC as a viable option for college, but did consider Princeton, one of the best, and most selective institutions in the nation. She also noted that UC did not reach out to her. Generally, one applies, or reaches out, to top institutions. Not the other way around.

It is ironic that Mrs. Obama talks so much about giving back, especially since the Obamas were notoriously stingy in their giving.Even after the windfall from his books the largest recipient of their donations was the Trinity Church where they NEVER heard the good Reverend make inappropriate remarks in 20 years. Other than photo ops, what has she ever done for anyone but the Obamas? Hospital patronage job? She figured out a way to send the indigent cases elsewhere. Community organizers? Take a look at the ghettos they organized. Annenburg education board? How great are those Chicago schools We hear so often how intelligent and educated she is but her grammar and syntax could have fooled me. Look how often she says "Let me tell you". Typical Obama speech, all talk no action. Phonies, arrogant phonies both of them! No, don't tell me anything, but show me something good you have ever done except fool a lot of people.

More lies from a self-acknowledged affirmative action woman who rode her husband's coattails to a high-paying, do nothing job at the University of Chicago hospital. Twenty years as a devoted listener to the Rev. Wright and she's still complaining.

I grew up in a college town and it never reached out to me, "a bright and promising student in their midst." I never knew they were supposed to do that -- I thought I was supposed to apply to them and bring myself to their attention through that avenue.

What is wrong with Michelle Obama that she always paints her world with herself at the center as victim? She even has the nerve to complain about paying off student loans when she was sharing a personal trainer and making $300,00 a year.

Ok, she was just making a point here that universities must reach out to children in their communities in a visible way. You cited one example of the university reaching out which was good, but if you can only cite one such program it only makes the point that the university did not do enough. Secondly you cannot speak for Michelle as to why she did not hear about what the programs the university was engaging in come on ... so now its her fault that the university was not engaging enough with the community it was in?? If you need a magnifying glass to see the university's outreach does that not further clarify the point that they were not doing enough.

For most of us we were privileged to have parents and family that encouraged going to college and all that, but this is not the case for children in poor neighborhoods, you ofcourse won't know because you have to either live there or interact with these kids to know this.

Michelle Obama is a pathetic narcissistic boor. No large entity or organization "reaches out" to anybody. Part of being American is having the courage and tenacity to pursue those goals and dreams on the merits of one's accomplishments. I'll bet that after parading around in her garden in her $540 tennis shoes that she still claims that the experience of being First Lady was a downer.

Driving from Fresno 2 UC Merced: 65 miles >> Waiting 5 hours in 95 degree weather: HOT >> Spending 22-minutes with Michelle Obama: PRICELESS!

Shocking comments from a University which gave her a job. She blasts UC because she was 'entitled' to be admitted. Fact be known, she was accepted at both Princeton and Harvard based on 'diversity' balancing not because she was the most qualified. Her only 'achievement' at Princeton was a vile, diatribe on anyone who happenned to be white. Obama has been able to keep her mouth in check - but everyone is waiting for the lid to come off and she will be shown to be quite the opposite of what the media prefers to portray. Her Secret Service agents have already labeled her as the worst first lady they have ever had to deal with - such a surprise.

What a world class hypocrite. At least she could admit that the first time she was proud of U of C was when they paid her $300,000 a year in order to use her when her husband became Senator. Or maybe brag of her great accomplishent at U. of C. which was fronting their effort in the Black Community to deny poor blacks emergency room treatment to free up capacity for paying customers. Or her lucrative expeience on the board for a key vendor to the libs hated Walmart. If the US had a media worth it's salt, the Obama's would, deservedly, still be in Kenwood.

wow you people complain a lot.

Of course SHE had absolutely NO PROBLEM accepting the 320K a year for doing NOTHING in repayment her husband getting earmarks for the university hospital.

I suspect that U of C already had their affirmative active pick for that year. It is a well known that she only got in to her college because of the basketball skills of her sibling.

These two have to be the most ungrateful POS ever to inhabit the White House.

2002 can't get here soon enough.

I read post from all the sites that are truly hateful and filled with envy about the President and the First Lady, but an an outsider is so ugly to come to the site of their home and find so much more hate and envy. This remains me of what Dr. King said about Chicago. How can you be so disrespectful to people from your home who have made history in this country. I can never believe that these two people can be as evil as you make them out to be; because in traveling this entire country, a lot more people would have realized it. You know envy is one of the seven deadly sins and it can make you physically ill. Lighten up and stop drinking all the hateraid.

"wow you people complain a lot."

It's not complaining. It is an objective assessment of disingenuous hypocrites.

University of Chicago has a long history of reaching out to high school youth. First and foremost, they have the Lab school that provides a real high school experience that Chicago Public Schools do not offer.

Second, as a high school student in the early 70's, I attended numerous Saturday morning programs sponsored by the College on a wide range of topics at no cost. And there were black students there as well. I traveled 15 miles to go to the programs, you would think somebody as close as three miles could find their way there.

No, Ms. Obama's comments clearly illustrate the hypocrisy of her and her husband. If she despised the place so much, why would she allow her husband to work there? Why would she take $300,000?

So much for values. People in our blue collar community thank University of Chicago for their service. You would expect the Obama's to return their money.

Lynn please be quiet about Mrs. Obama if they did
not make her feel welcome they didn't. Lynn that
was so many years ago things have change since then. I do not have a problem with Mrs. Obama
working at the college or her friends attending.
Why are you so defensive about what the first lady said in her speech.


She also got the history of Merced wrong. The Mexicans and the white settlers and the Chinese were there from the time CA became a state in the 19th century, and they were doing all the labor.

She makes it seem like first the white settlers came and then the African-Americans (driving trucks) and then later the Mexicans and the Asians (Chinese). In her head all Mexicans and Asians are "new" and they are all farmworkers. That's not the case in the West.

And why is she complaining about the University of Chicago? Did any other African-Americans from her high school or neighboring high schools attend the University of Chicago? I'm sure they did. She's blaming the University of Chicago for her own feelings of inadequacy.


Everyone has a right to express him or herself without intimidation. That is simply what Mrs. Obama did. I liked her speech and would suggest that all these white folks get thier act together and start working together

Michelle and Barack Obama can caste blame easily on anyone or any establishment around them. Being grateful truly has eluded them in this life. It was only a month ago that Michelle wore a pair of $500.00 dollar sport shoes in front of people who must wear second hand shoes and wonder where their next meal will materialize. Her lavish dinners, parties, music celebrity entertainment etc. at the White House beget any kind of true understanding of many other lifestyles that exist in front of her. She is hardly one to criticize and definitely doesn't match the secular Mother Theresa she attempts to portray.

As an Indian person I am amazed at the lack of sensitivity of the US white people who comment here. This black girl from an abused by white racist for centuries society MUST "reach out" to the Republicans in U of C. It is a laugh. Try - me -Indian even if we get top in the National Spelling Bee- nowadays - Princeton admits ONLY "genious" colored people to these "LEGACY" (mostly 99% white LEGACY) schools and guess what? The "intellectual" brains of these colored scholars are staved while in these "legacy" schools with the "likes" of Bush, Blair, Calhoun, Larson and what not- "legacies" who's kids REALLY do not want to commit to "scholarliness"- Why- they DO not need- THEY HAVE MONEY- Why work? Self defeating process when you have 100 million in the BANK.
A five million is just very moderate PROFESSIONALS like physicians, lawyers and new generation businessmen.
Michelle is a very SMART, INTELLIGENT, and "most" of all FEARLSS (i.e. HONEST) speaker for ALL colored ppl of the world against "colonialism" & creation of "divide" all over the world which has LEAD to "famine" and poverty all over the world. (Coffee & Banana in my vegetable garden? No food for my kids but drink STARBUCKS?).

"By using what you have learned here, you can shorten the path perhaps for kids who may not see a path at all." I don't know why you think this quote is hard to understand. What she is clearly saying is that now that these graduates have obtained an education, they can help younger kids in their community obtain one as well. Kids that may not believe that they deserve a college education.

Also, a lot of you are taking the comment about the University of Chicago reached out to Michelle the wrong way, in my opinion. The way I understand it, she means that the University, although a few miles away from her home, didn't reach out to the youth in her community. How many of you can say that you live close to a major university, and have not been acknowledged in any way. I live close to a community college and even that school makes its presence known by handing out flyers at the local high school and general mailers to the people living close by.

She is not saying that she wanted them to come knocking on her door begging her to attend the school, rather she is expressing that she was hopeful that the school would have reached out a little more to the community to let the local kids get a feel and understanding for the school right down the street. Makes perfect sense to me.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 18, 2009 5:20 AM.

Obama at Notre Dame confronts abortion controversy was the previous entry in this blog.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, May 18, 2009. Meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is the next entry in this blog.

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