Watch: Michelle Obama tears down Trump in incredible diversity speech
First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama has delivered a powerful speech about the value of tolerance and diversity, in challenge to Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Billionaire reality TV star-turned-Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has found himself in yet another race row this week, after accusing a judge of bias against him due to Mexican heritage.
His latest comments came just days after Trump revoked his support for transgender equality following a right-wing campaign. The previously pro-LGBT Republican claimed in a U-turn last week that states should be allowed to have anti-trans laws, toeing his party line by insisting: “Whatever you’re born, that’s the bathroom you use.”
Without directly addressing Trump, FLOTUS took on much of his rhetoric in a commencement speech to City College of New York – a historically-diverse college dating back to 1847.
In her speech, Obama said: “Despite the lessons of our history and the truth of your experience here at City College, some folks out there today seem to have a very different perspective.
“They seem to view our diversity as a threat to be contained rather than as a resource to be tapped. They tell us to be afraid of those who are different, to be suspicious of those with whom we disagree.
“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 the optimism and openness that have always been the engine of our progress.
“I can tell you, as First Lady, I have had the privilege of travelling around the world and visiting dozens of different countries, and I have seen what happens when ideas like these take hold.
“I have seen how leaders who rule by intimidation, leaders who demonise and dehumanize entire groups of people, often do so because they have nothing else to offer.
“And I have seen how places that stifle the voices and dismiss the potential of their citizens are diminished; how they are less vital, less hopeful, less free.”
She added: “Graduates, that is not who we are. That is not what this country stands for.
“Here in America, we don’t let our differences tear us apart. Not here. Because we know that our greatness comes when we appreciate each other’s strengths, when we learn from each other, when we lean on each other. Because in this country, it’s never been each person for themselves. No, we’re all in this together. We always have been.
“Here in America, we don’t give in to our fears.
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“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 – from innovations like Google and eBay to inventions like the artificial heart, the telephone, even the blue jeans; to beloved patriotic songs like ‘God Bless America’, like national landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and, yes, the White House – both of which were designed by architects who were immigrants.”
She told the students: “Our greatness has always come from people who expect nothing and take nothing for granted — folks who work hard for what they have then reach back and help others after them.
“More than anything else, graduates, that is the American story. It’s your story and the story of those who came before you at this school.
“It’s the story of the son of Polish immigrants named Jonas Salk who toiled for years in a lab until he discovered a vaccine that saved countless lives. It’s the story of the son of Jamaican immigrants named Colin Powell who became a four star general, Secretary of State, and a role model for young people across the country.
“It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves, 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.”
She concluded: “So I want you all to go out there. Be great. Build great lives for yourselves. Enjoy the liberties that you have in this great country. Pursue your own version of happiness. And please, please, always, always do your part to help others do the same.”