I hope people who attended Tuskegee University’s commencement on Saturday got Michelle Obama’s message. I hope they paid more attention to what she said than how some news media organizations portrayed the first lady’s speech to graduates of the historically black Alabama school.
I don’t want them to think People magazine got it right when it ran as the headline her dismay over being pictured as a fist-pumping Black Panther on a cover of The New Yorker in 2008. It didn’t. And neither did CNN, which put this headline on its report of that speech: “Michelle Obama says she was held to different standard in ’08 campaign due to her race.”
What she told Tuskegee’s graduates was much more profound.
Obama’s message was about overcoming obstacles — it was about the “double duty” blacks have to our country and our race. She talked of the obstacles overcome by members of the Tuskegee Airmen, black combat pilots who served with great distinction during World War II. They trained at Tuskegee and suffered the indignities of Jim Crow racism while fighting for America.