Kansans protest planned first lady graduation speech

Families in Kansas say a plan to have first lady Michelle Obama deliver a high school graduation speech next month will politicize the event and create a scarcity of tickets.

Obama is slated to speak at a graduation ceremony in Topeka on May 17, school district officials announced last Thursday. 

The event is also meant to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision that found school segregation unconstitutional. 

A high school senior started an online petition last week to urge the school district to reconsider plans to host Obama. The Associated Press reports more than 1,200 people have signed it. 

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Some have complained few tickets will be available for each student’s family because the ceremony will require five area high schools to cram into an 8,000-seat arena.  

Other parents and students have said the Brown v. Board anniversary peg will politicize the graduation and overshadow the students’ day.

A school official told the Associated Press that the district asked for the president or first lady to speak at the graduation, and to connect it with the landmark civil rights achievement. 

Some people have said if Obama wants to mark the anniversary, she could do so at the site that celebrates the decision.

The lead plaintiff’s daughter and another plaintiff’s child were students at a formerly all-black school nearby that commemorates the case.