First lady Michelle Obama told graduating high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas, that they “take the diversity you’re surrounded by for granted.”
Obama spoke Friday in the city where the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case began and, 60 years ago, was the means for the Supreme Court to outlaw segregation in public schools.
Despite noting great progress since 1954, the president’s wife accused schools in the area of pulling back “on efforts to integrate.”
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Obama warned students and parents of the Topeka school district that “by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were when Dr. [Martin Luther] King gave his final speech.”
Many students probably “don’t even notice [diversity],” she said, because they’ve grown up in a country so representative of it.
“With a woman governor, a Latina Supreme Court justice, a black president … you’ve seen Latino singers win Grammys, black coaches win Super Bowls, you’ve watched TV shows with characters of every background,” Obama said.
Of the impact of the Brown decision, she said:
The truth is that Brown v. Board of Education isn’t just about our history, it’s about our future. … Brown is still being decided every single day….not just in our courts and schools — but in how we live our lives. Our laws may no longer separate us based on our skin color, but nothing in the Constitution says we have to eat together in the lunch room, or live together in the same neighborhoods. There is no court case against believing in stereotypes or thinking that certain types of hateful jokes or comments are funny.
Here is a transcript of Michelle Obama’s speech.