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Michelle Obama Tells Mississippi Grads to Fight Anti-LGBT Law

Michelle Obama Tells Mississippi Grads to Fight Anti-LGBT Law

Michelle

The first lady delivered an impassioned commencement speech at Jackson State University, blasting Mississippi's new anti-LGBT "religious freedom" law and telling grads to defend gay and trans rights.

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Speaking to the graduates of Jackson State University, a historically black college in Mississippi, First Lady Michelle Obama said Saturday, "We've got to stand side by side with all of our neighbors -- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender."

The first lady mentioned the history of segregation and racism at Jackson's Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, where she spoke, and how Mississippi has long been the center of the African-American civil rights struggle; the state where black 14-year-old Emmett Till and NAACP leader Medgar Evars were killed. She urged graduates to continue fighting against injustice, especially Republican-led fforts to disenfranchise African-American voters, often in Southern states.

Then she mentioned the assaults against LGBT people in the South, including Mississippi's newly passed law allowing discrimination against same-sex couples and transgender people.

"If we fail to exercise our fundamental right to vote, then I guarantee that so much of the progress we've fought for will be under threat. Congress will still be gridlocked. Statehouses will continue to roll back voting rights and write discrimination into the law. We see it right here in Mississippi -- just two weeks ago -- how swiftly progress can hurtle backward, how easy it is to single out a small group and marginalize them because of who they are or who they love.

"So we've got to stand side by side with all our neighbors -- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender; Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu immigrant, Native American -- because the march for civil rights isn't just about African-Americans, it's about all Americans. It's about making things more just, more equal, more free for all our kids and grandkids. That's the story you all have the opportunity to write. That's what this historic university has prepared you to do."

The first lady also spoke of her popular husband's civil rights legacy and reminded Jackson State University grads that much more progress is needed. Like the president often does, Michelle Obama encouraged the students to be proactive and fight for change themselves. She also urged students to vote in this year's election and to face the future with hopefulness.

"[Barack and I] love -- our love for our children, our commitment to leaving them a better world. Our love for our country, which has given us so many blessings and advantages. Our love for our fellow citizens -- parents working hard to support their kids, men and women in uniform who risk everything to keep us safe, young people from the toughest backgrounds who never stop believing in their dreams -- young people like so many of you."

Watch a clip of Obama's speech below, where she blasts hateful language and divisive tactics used against the president. Read the full speech, below the video.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.