First Lady Michelle Obama spoke today to graduates of Oberlin College. She encouraged the graduating class to "rise above the noise and shape the revolutions of your time."
"[T]hink about how even with all the gridlock and polarization in Washington, we have made so much change these past six years: 12 million new jobs. Sixteen million people who finally have health insurance. Historic agreements to fight climate change. Epic increases in college financial aid. More progress on LGBT rights than any time in our history. And today, it is no longer remarkable to see two beautiful black girls walking their dogs on the South Lawn of the White House lawn. That’s just the way things are now," Obama said to applause at the liberal arts college.
"See, graduates, this is what happens when you turn your attention outward and decide to brave the noise and engage yourself in the struggles of our time. And that’s why, in his remarks 50 years ago, Dr. King urged the class of ‘65 to “stand up” and “be a concerned generation.” And, graduates, that call to action applies just as much to all of you today.
" And I want to be very clear: Every city ordinance, every ballot measure, every law on the books in this country –- that is your concern. What happens at every school board meeting, every legislative session –- that is your concern. Every elected official who represents you, from dog catcher all the way to President of the United States –- they are your concern.
"So get out there and volunteer on campaigns, and then hold the folks you elect accountable. Follow what’s happening in your city hall, your statehouse, Washington, D.C. Better yet, run for office yourself. Get in there. Shake things up. Don’t be afraid. (Applause.) And get out and vote in every election -– not just the big national ones that get all the attention, but every single election. Make sure the folks who represent you share your values and aspirations.
"See, that is how you will rise above the noise and shape the revolutions of your time. That is how you will have a meaningful journey on those clamorous highways of life. And, graduates, that is how you will carry on the proud legacy of this great institution for generations to come."