RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama urged Eastern Kentucky University graduates on Saturday night to reach out to people with different political beliefs, saying the country would benefit from the conversations.
“If you’re a Democrat, spend some time talking to a Republican,” Mrs. Obama told about 600 education, business and technology graduates at the third and final commencement ceremony of the day. “And if you’re a Republican, have a chat with a Democrat. Maybe you’ll find some common ground, maybe you won’t.”
The first lady suggested that they visit senior centers to benefit from the experiences of people with plenty of “life experience under their belts.” She also pointed them to religious congregations different than their own, saying they might hear something in a sermon “that stays with you.” And she predicted they would learn something if they reached out “with an open mind and an open heart.”
“And goodness knows, we need more of that,” she said. “Because we know what happens when we only talk to people who think like we do. We just get stuck in our ways.”
The first lady received thunderous applause from several thousand people attending the ceremony in a state that voted overwhelmingly against her husband, President Barack Obama, in his two successful runs for the White House.
She exhorted the graduates to apply the same resilience and work ethic they showed in school to their lives beyond campus to cope with life’s ups-and-downs.
“How are you going to respond when you don’t get that job you had your heart set on?” she said.