Michelle Obama Delivers an Emotional Commencement Address at Chicago High School

The 2015 graduating class of King College Prep High School in Chicago's South Side received a touching commencement address from First Lady Michelle Obama Tuesday. The school was selected from about 200 that submitted videos for Obama's FAFSA Video Challenge after she was "blown away" by their creative Scandal inspired submission.

The moving address was personal for Obama who grew up near the school, and said she wanted to share "the real story" of the South Side, one of "resilience and courage in the face of adversity."

“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 schoolwork when there's too much noise at home; how you keep it together when your family's having a hard time making ends meet. But more importantly, I know the strength of this community.”

King was the school attended by Hadiya Pendleton, who at age 15 was shot dead two years ago. The week prior to the shooting Pendleton, an honor student, performed at a D.C. event to celebrate President Barack Obama's inauguration.

The First Lady spoke to the students about this tragedy, telling them, “I know that many of you have already dealt with some serious losses in your lives. Maybe you've lost someone you love, someone you desperately wish could be here with you tonight. And I know that many of you are thinking about Hadiya right now and feeling the hole that she’s left in your hearts.”

Pendleton was honored at what would've been her graduation ceremony. An empty chair was left for her, draped in purple, her favorite color, and decorated with flowers.

Obama, who stated that Pendleton's memory serves as a "a blessing and an inspiration" also told the students, “If Hadiya’s friends and family could survive their heartbreak and pain, if they could found organizations to honor her unfulfilled dreams, if they could inspire folks across this country to wear orange to protest gun violence, then I know you all can live your life with the same determination and joy that Hadiya lived her life. I know you all can dig deep and keep on fighting to fulfill your own dreams.”

Obama told the graduates she was most impressed by the school's impressive leadership and completion rate. All 177 graduates of the 2015 class have been accepted to college, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

Photo: ABC 7 Chicago


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