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‘Don’t succumb to despair and anger’: Michelle Obama speaks about the challenge of enduring racism as she gives commencement address at historically black Tuskegee University

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  • The first lady gave the commencement address at the historically black college Saturday, in front of an audience of about 4,000  
  • Mrs Obama will also give commencement speeches at Oberlin College and at Dr Martin Luther King Jr Prep School in Chicago this year

Michelle Obama invoked the storied history of Tuskegee University as she urged new graduates to soar to their futures.

The first lady gave the commencement address Saturday at the historically black university in Alabama.

Obama said the defining story of Tuskegee is that of rising hopes for all African Americans, and advised the graduating students not to let enduring racism come in the way of their dreams.

‘To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end we lose,’ the first lady said.

The first lady was given an honorary doctoral degree before she took to the podium to address the 500 graduating students, and crowd of about 4,000 in a campus building named after the first black man to be earn the rank of four-star general.

Obama described how the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots of World War II, endured humiliating slights and how the schools’ first students made bricks by hand when there was no money for construction.

However, she told the students to trust themselves to ‘chart your own course and make your own mark in the world’ and not feel pressured to live up to the expectations of those who came before them.

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