TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Michelle Obama is rearranging plans for a speech before graduating high school seniors in Kansas in the face of protests that her appearance at a combined graduation ceremony for five schools would limit seating for families and friends.
She had accepted the Topeka public school district’s invitation to speak May 17 at the combined ceremony to mark that day’s 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing school segregation. The case originated in Topeka.
But a furor over what the district considered an honor erupted after plans for Mrs. Obama’s address were announced.
Under a new plan worked out by the district, the first lady will speak on May 16 at a “senior recognition day” ceremony at the same 8,000-seat arena where the combined ceremony was to be held. The combined ceremony is being scrapped, and the five schools will hold separate graduation exercises instead.
The compromise, announced while President Barack Obama was traveling in Asia, pleased Topeka students and parents who were concerned about being limited to six tickets for family members and the first lady’s remarks taking away from the occasion.
“That’s awesome. I’m ecstatic,” said Tina Hernandez, mother of Topeka High senior Dauby Knight. “It works out for everybody. That makes me more excited for her to come.”
The school district said each student will get one ticket and up to six for family members for the first lady’s speech, the same allotment originally planned for the combined graduation ceremony. And now that Mrs. Obama will no longer speak at a graduation, seating won’t need to be limited due to concerns over her security during graduation events.
School board president Janel Johnson said the district was pleased with the community support and hopes Mrs. Obama’s visit makes for a memorable weekend. The first lady’s communications director, Maria Cristina Gonzalez Noguera, added that Mrs. Obama wants everyone to have the opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony.
“Once we learned about the concerns of some students, we were eager to find a solution that enabled all of the students and their families to celebrate the special day,” the spokeswoman said Thursday.
Eighteen-year-old Taylor Gifford had launched an online petition urging the school district to reconsider its plans. Gifford and the more than 1,200 people who had signed it expressed concern that Mrs. Obama’s visit would limit guest seating.
Abbey Rubottom, 18, said the change of plans would work best for graduates and their families, as well as other community members who are interested in what Mrs. Obama would have the say about the anniversary of the Brown decision.
“We are affected, but to close it off from people who deserve to go there doesn’t make sense,” Rubottom said. “The fact that she would do that is so amazing.”
Hernandez said she was glad the first lady realized the stir her planned visit was causing for the graduates and their families, and that she was willing to modify her plans.
“She’s a mom. She understands,” Hernandez said.
Like BlackAmericaWeb.com on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.
REGISTER NOW for the 2014 Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion taking place August 28- September 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida! For booking information visit here.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31