Michelle Obama, First Lady, urged Jackson State University students to tell their stories when faced with the challenges of today. Obama spoke before 800 graduating students and 35,000 people gathered at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial stadium in Jackson. Obama reminded graduates that a ballot is all it takes to address issues like the fight against discrimination and universal healthcare. Obama stated, “You can create a hashtag, but these movements will disappear quicker than a snapchat” “I guarantee that progress we fought to achieve will still be at risk,” Obama stated. He seemed to be referring to Mississippi’s new religious liberty law. Obama discussed examples of discrimination that Mississippians are familiar with, including the Emmett Till murder and the imprisonment of Freedom Riders during Civil Rights. She also noted the history of the stadium where she was speaking, which was once an all-white facility. It was first integrated in 1967, with a football match between Grambling University (which won the game). Obama noted that both teams were aware that a nation was watching them and that they didn’t “stoop to their level of oppression.” She also mentioned her own experiences with politics, referring to charges that included endless questions about her husband’s birth certificate. The First Lady said that it was unfair to overlook the positive changes made by the country, such as not being forced to use a separate fountain to determine one’s skin color or tackling climate change. Obama stated that it may seem like a volatile period. “We may feel brokenhearted that we are still dealing with poverty, gun violence. It’s progress that these issues are being seen the light of the day at all,” she said. She and the president chose to “look towards the horizon” and rely on their faith when they are criticised. She highlighted the progress made by the country since President Obama was elected, which included 14 million jobs, a reduction in unemployment, federal deficits down two-thirds, high schools graduating rates at the “highest ever recorded,” 20 million more people having health insurance, and the freedom to marry the people they love. She said, “I’m here not because I was special.” “I was you. “If I’m here you can too” She stated that education is the best tool graduates have to reach this goal. Obama stated, “Excellence can be the most powerful answer to the doubters or the haters…how you make yourself stronger, smarter and more confident.” Barbra Johnson of Jackson said, “There was so many hope (in her speech), as she left the stadium.” “A struggle moving forward in the pursuit of progress. That’s what I expected from all of it, and she brought that to me.” Shirley Allen from Clarksdale said, “She did her homework.” “She was able to tell me things about Jackson State University that I did not know. She spoke about voting and I was stunned. She is correct. She is right. It is an honor to be a part. Jackson State University was founded in 1877. This institution is a historically black university that was originally created to teach newly-freed African Americans how to become teachers and ministers. As he waited for events to begin, Jerome Moore of Jackson stated that this was the first time that some of these families have graduated. It’s almost like winning the lottery. All these people are excited that their family has just won a huge one. It’s almost like winning the powerball, Lorine Phillips Griffith stated that she came to hear Obama speak. Griffith stated that she is a woman of great wisdom. “I was happy that she came because she is a lady, and she is leading.” Cynthia Williams Sampson, her friend, shared her excitement: “It’s just her presence. It’s her charisma. It was very exciting to know she was here. Traffic near the stadium slowed down, particularly near the Fondren neighborhood, during the hours leading up to the ceremony. Many people in the stadium had umbrellas on to protect themselves from the sun. Obama received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters before she began her speech. “You’re now a tiger, First Lady,” Jackson State University President Carolyn W. Meyers stated. Obama responded to cheers by saying “I’m now a Tiger,” as she started speaking. After the ceremony, the First Lady, who had just returned from a state visit in London, was headed to Washington, D.C. After her speech, the First Lady left the stadium.