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[Girlfriends of Culture] First lady Michelle Obama to speak at Jackson State

First lady Michelle Obama will speak at the graduation ceremony of Jackson State University later this month, the White House said Monday.

Obama, who speaks each year at the graduation ceremony of an historically black college or university, will be the keynote speaker at Jackson State’s April 23 ceremony for more than 1,000 graduating students.

The White House noted Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, an effort to promote education beyond high school. It cited the partnership between Jackson State and the city’s public school system to create the Blackburn Laboratory Middle School, the first of its kind in the area.

The White House website describes Reach Higher as Obama’s effort to inspire students “to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.”

News of Obama’s speaking engagement follows James Cole Jr.’s visit to Jackson State last week to talk to teachers and students. Cole, general counsel at the U.S. Education Department, also toured the Blackburn Lab Middle School on campus.

Obama has visited Mississippi three times as first lady, including two visits to promote her Let’s Move initiative. She visited the state in 2010 soon after kicking off her Let’s Move campaign, a national effort to encourage people to eat healthier food and exercise more.

The state has one of the highest obesity rates in the country. Obama returned in 2013 with chef Rachel Ray for a stop at an elementary school in Clinton to promote successful efforts there.

Education and health are key issues for the first lady. The Obama administration also has pushed for more funding for historically black colleges and universities.

Later this year, Obama will speak at a graduation ceremony at the Santa Fe Indian School, a high school in New Mexico, and at the Harlem campus of City College of New York.

Past graduation speakers at Jackson State include writer and actor Hill Harper and ABC News anchor and chief national correspondent Byron Pitts.


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