Michelle Obama: "I Wake Up In A House That Was Built By Slaves"

Spencer Platt / Getty Images
First Lady Michelle Obama used her final commencement address to deliver a series of important messages to this year's graduates. Obama spoke about unity and against anti-immigration politicians in her address at City College of New York.

“We don’t build up walls to keep people out, because we know that our greatness has always depended on contributions from people who were born elsewhere but sought out this country and made it their home," Obama said during her remarks.

She used her platform to emphasize the mobility offered by the United States.

“It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves,” she said. “And I watch my daughters, two beautiful black young women, head off to school, waving goodbye to their father, the president of the United States; the son of a man from Kenya who came here to America for the same reasons as many of you: to get an education and improve his prospects in life.”

Later in the speech, she appeared to reference the presumptive Republican nominee’s proposal to build a wall.

“This is not who we are,” she said. “That is not what this country stands for, no. No, here in America we don’t let our difference tell us apart — not here.”

She also warned against those who "tell us to be afraid of those who are different."

"They seem to view our diversity as a threat to be contained rather than as a resource to be tapped,” Obama said. “They act as if name-calling is an acceptable substitute for thoughtful debate: As if anger and intolerance should be our default state rather than optimism and openness that have always been the engine of our progress."

Obama praised the City College of New York’s commitment to diversity: Half the students come from low-income households and 40% are the first in their families to attend college. She said the school offered a place where students "didn’t have to hide their last names or their accents.”

“All of you know for centuries this city has been the gateway to America for so many striving, hope-filled immigrants,” Obama said.

Watch her full speech below.


More from US News