First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the keynote address to a crowd of more than 9,000 at Spelman’s graduation at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park yesterday (May 15, 2011).
Over 550 graduates received their degrees during Spelman’s 124th Commencement Ceremony.
The nation’s first African-American First Lady also became a Spelmanite yesterday as she received her honorary degree of Doctor of Law from one of the nation’s two historically Black colleges.
Award winning artists and sisters Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen also marched in with the class of 2011, as both received Honorary Doctorates.
Phylicia Rashad receives her honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.
*POST UPDATED 3/17/11: Video of Mrs. Obama’s Speech Added*
More photos and details below:
After a heartfelt introduction by Spelman President, Dr. Beverly D. Tatum, First Lady Michelle Obama Michelle Obama took to the stage and issued a challenge to the graduates.
“I want you to think about all those women who came before you,” the First Lady said. “They didn’t go around pointing fingers and making excuses. They focused on what they did have…their intellect, their courage, their determination, their passion.”
“Wherever you go, you will find folks who have been discounted but have every bit as much promise as you have.”
Pushing the ladies to serve others, the First Lady encouraged the graduates to use the power of their education and networking to change their communities and change their world.
Candice Cannon, a member of South Fulton’s Westlake High School class of 2007 was in disbelief about the day’s events.
“The most touching part of the day was seeing Michelle Obama mouth the words ‘I’m a Spelman girl now’ after receiving her honorary degree.
That was so special to me. She’s joined our ranks!”
Mrs. Obama chose four schools, including Spelman, to address at graduation this year. She’s already spoken to the University of Northern Iowa and will address next the U.S. Military Academy graduates at West Point, and the 26 graduating seniors of Quantico Middle High School, whose parents serve at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, former Mayor Shirley Franklin, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Congressman Hank Johnson also attended this year’s ceremony.