First lady Michelle Obama had a lot to say during her commencement address Friday at Bowie State University (BSU) in Maryland, regarding what young African Americans should be focused on to be successful.
"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," Mrs. 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 a lawyer or a business leader, they're fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.
"Right now, one in three African-American students are dropping out of high school. Only one in five African Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 has gotten a college degree — one in five."
Not unlike her address at the Democratic Convention last year in Charlotte, the first lady spoke about how her family dealt with paying for her education.
"When it came time for my brother and I to go to college, most of our tuition came from student loans and grants. But my dad still had to pay a small portion of that tuition each semester, and he was always determined to pay his share right on time — even taking out loans when he fell short, because he couldn't bear the thought of us missing a registration deadline because his check was late," she said.
The first lady also echoed a theme that President Obama has spoken on: turning off the TV and focusing on serious issues.
"When it comes to your own kids, if you don't like what they're watching on TV, turn it off. If you don't like the video games they're playing, take them away. Take a stand against the media that elevates today's celebrity gossip instead of the serious issues of our time. Take a stand against the culture that glorifies instant gratification instead of hard work and lasting success," the first lady added.
"Please stand up and reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white. Reject that," she added.
During the convocation ceremony, the university conferred Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degrees on Valerie Simpson and the late Nickolas Ashford, and the honorarium was followed later in the evening with a special tribute for both monumental singers.
Other performers for the event included Jean Carne, Freddie Jackson and Al Johnson of the Unifics, with Simpson joining them onstage.
Meanwhile, an Ashford and Simpson scholarship program has been launched at the university for music students and others studying fine arts.
(Sources: Politic365, WI Staff Writer Barrington M. Salmon)