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First lady Michelle Obama spoke Tuesday at the high School graduation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory School, for the classmates of an honor student who was gunned down near the Obama family home in 2013.  Hadiya Pendleton was fatally shot on the way home from class two days after she visited Washington D.C. to perform with her drill team, during President Barack Obama‘s second term inauguration festivities.

Michelle Obama acknowledged the void that Hadiya’s death left in the heart of the school and the first lady also connected with the students by sharing her own personal struggles from growing up in the same kinds of neighborhoods as well as the white house.

“I was born and raised here on the South Side — in South Shore — and I am who I am today because of this community,” Obama said. “I know the struggles many of you face: how you walk the long way home to avoid the gangs; how you fight to concentrate on your homework when there’s too much noise at home; how you keep it together when your family’s having a hard time making ends meet.”

First Lady Obama even challenged the youth by making them aware that they have a responsibility to change the already “skewed” narratives about their communities by what they say, do, and how they carry themselves.  This is a task that first lady Obama says that she and President Obama both share.

The commencement speech before roughly 2,500 people at Chicago State University was among three the first lady has recently given. She spoke last month at Tuskegee University in Alabama and Oberlin College in Ohio.


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