tv [untitled] February 20, 2012 1:30pm-2:00pm EST
>> well, i think i just had little antennas that went up and told me when somebody had their own agenda and not ronnie's. and then i'd tell him. he didn't always agree with me, but i'd tell him. it usually worked out. >> what was the first thing you'd notice when somebody had their own agenda. >> you just know. you can't say it's something that you -- you just know, if you have those antennas. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. you're welcome. >> all day today, american history tv is featuring america's first ladies. who do you think was our most influential first lady? vote and join the conversation with us on facebook at facebook.com/cspan. there's a new website for american history tv where you can find our schedules and
preview our upcoming programs, watch featured video from our regular weekly serious as well as access history tweets, history in the news, and social media from facebook, youtube, twitter and four square. follow american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3 and online at c-span.org/history. american history tv usually shown on the weekends on c-span3 will continue this week in prime time. our focus tuesday night black history month. the new smithsonian museum of african-american history and culture taking place wednesday on the national mall, the museum's founding director lonny bunch takes us through the storage facility to see artifacts on display. 8:30, the relationship between martin luther king, jr. and his mentors, benjamin mays and hour thurman. at 10:00 to memphis, tennessee as we toured the national civil
rights museum built on the site where martin luther king, jr. was assassinated. and at 10:30 from connecticut, professor william foster teaches a class on the history of the n word in american culture with a focus on uncle tom's cabin and mark twain's huckberry fin. this is american history tv on c-span $3. >> on this president's day c-span3 american history tv we're featuring first ladies. up next first lady michelle obama talking about growing up, her life, and the value of education. she spoke to graduating seniors at anacostia high school.
>> thank you all. thank you so much. first of all, thank you charity. you did a great job on that introduction. love you all, too. so proud. i want to thank the anacostia senior high school choir for their amazing performances. i also want to thank brandon, annie, and, of course, your valedictorian jordan for their amazing remarks. let's give them a big old hand. i want to acknowledge a couple of other people, malik, donald,
all the leaders joining you today to celebrate this morning. let's give them a round of applause as well. i have to tell you it is a privilege for me to be with you. i have been looking forward to this day for a long time. as you know, this the second time i've had a chance to come and spend time with anacostia high school students. during my first visit with you all when i got to come to the school, i came away just impressed and moved by all of you. i was impressed with the questions you asked, your spirit, attitude. i loved hearing about your lives, hopes, dreams. i've also enjoyed getting to know my girls, the students who are participating in the white house mentorship program we set
up this past year. so all these opportunities have given me a very meaningful connection to many of the amazing students who are at this school. it's given me a real appreciation for this community. i just couldn't wait to be here in person to say congratulations to the class of 2010. i'm so happy for you all. i know this has been a long journey getting here. full of warm memories of teachers, not so warm mechl rice of papers an tests. i know for some of you, there may have been times when you aren't quite sure you would make it. but you are here. i want you to soak it up.
soak it up. you're here. you made it to this day. i want you graduates to pat yourselves on the back, do a little patting. i want you to be proud of what you've accomplished to get here today. i know your families are proud of you, your teachers are proud of you, and i am so proud of you all. i really am. looking out at all of you, i'm reminded many of you have overcome a lot to be here. much like the community of anacostia itself founded in the 1800s for folks who worked at the navy yard across the river. anacostia eventually became a place where people worked hard at clerks and civil servants, teachers and tradesmen, where families looked out for one another. where strong churches were the heart and soul of the community. and yet we also know this
community has had its share of struggles. for a long time anacostia was segregated. in its early year it was illegal for african-americans to own land in parts of this community. and even after those barriers were torn down, others emerged. poverty, violence, inequality. but despite these challenges, anacostia continues to push forward. that's what i admire about this community and what i admire about all of you all. in the face of incredible struggles, you refuse to be defined by the hardships or adversities. instead what defines you is perseverance. what defines you is character. what defines you is the same commitment to education, to hard work, to setting high standards
for yourself that has made this country great. it's a commitment reflected in anacostia alums like frederick gregory who graduated in 1958 from this school and became the first african-american in our history to command a space shuttle. it's reflected in the small business owners who have opened up furniture stores and theaters in the community, the artists and leaders who have lived in anacostia throughout generations who remain committed to the success of this community. it's reflected in a man once called the sage of anacostia, lived just a few blocks from this school in a home called cedar hill that i had a chance to take my girls to last summer. it was a beautiful home. as all of you know, i'm talking about frederick douglass.
we remember him today as one of america's most eloquent and beloved leaders. i want you to think for a moment about what it took for frederick douglass to become that type of leader. just think about it. i want you to think about the odds he faced when he was your age. this is a man who was born into slavery. his mom died when he was a boy. he never knew his father. because it was illegal to educate slaves, taught himself how to read and write. he was just a couple of years older than you are today, he escaped from slavery, traveled all the way to england and made friends in britain who eventually bought his freedom. after he returned to america, frederick douglass became a leading abolitionist, an adviser to president lincoln and an inspiration to people of every
creed and color fighting for equality not just for african-americans but for women and others until his final days. so i tell you this story because it is one of the best examples in our history of the american spirit. it's an example of someone picking themselves up in the face of adversity, persevering through thick and thin, and proving to the world that nothing can stop a person from pursuing their dreams. that's the same perseverance, the same character and the spirit that i know inhabits so many of you. i imagine for some of you all getting this far hasn't baseball easy. perhaps there were those who wanted to write you off maybe because of assumptions they made about you or your school or your community. but every day you're proving them wrong. you're proving it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about you or
what you can achieve. the only thing that matters, graduates, is what you think about yourself and what you're willing to do to achieve your goal. that's all that matters. how hard are you willing to work? how big are you willing to dream? over this past year, so many of you have shown us exactly what you can do. i'm told that over 100 of you in this class have college plans this year. that's 90% of this class. [ applause ] that's up from under 30 last year. what an achievement. i'm told 16 juniors and seniors this year have been awarded gates achievers scholarships to college because of their academic excellence. i understand that student attendance for the entire school is up 20% from last year. see, now that's a tribute to you, to everyone here today.
and yet despite all you've achieved, despite all the obstacles you've already overcome with regard to your education, many of you may still be wrestling with your own personal issues and doubts. maybe you're taking care of a younger sibling. maybe you are responsible for an aging grandparent or child. maybe you're worried about your family's financial situation or maybe you're feeling crushed by the weight of life's responsibilities, maybe you feel like no one has your back, like you've been let down by people so many times that you've stopped believing in yourself. maybe you feel like your destiny was written the day you born and you should just rein in your hopes and scale back your dreams. but if any of you are thinking that way, i'm here to tell you stop it. don't do that.
don't ever scale back your dreams and don't ever set limits on what you can achieve. and don't think for one single moment that your destiny is out of hands because no one is in control of your destiny but you. and it is never too late. you can do anything you put your minds to, and i mean absolutely anything. it's important for you all to know this. but what is true is that building a purposeful life for yourself is never easy. no one achieves success overnight. you know life doesn't work that way. anything worth having takes time and perseverance. you're going to have to push yourselves beyond your limits. you're going to have to step outside of those comfort zones. you're going to have to ask for help when you need it.
more importantly, part of being a mature and functioning adult in this society is realizing that life is a series of tradeoffs. if you want a career that pays a good salary, then you have to work hard. you've got to be on time. you've got to finish what you start. you have to always keep your word. if you want a life free from drama, you can't hang out with people who thrive on drama. you have to pick your friends wisely, pick your friends, surround your self with people who share your values and your goals. but i am confident if you're willing to show that kind of commitment and do what it takes, anything is possible for any single one of you. you know why i'm so confident, because i'm looking at you. i've been watching y'all. i see your strength. i know what you're capable of.
i know what kind of young men and women you are. i want the world to know that. this class is made up of young women like the remarkable student who introduced me, charity, whose positive attitude is a model for everyone around her. beautiful. charity, she's an editor of the paper, mentor for ninth graders and gates achiever's scholar. and she'll be following her own role model, her sister, to college in the fall. this class is made up of young men like your valedictorian jordan smiley, who grew up surrounded by violence, confronted by daily pressures and daily temptations to fall in with the wrong crowd. but jordan was blessed with amazing parents, supportive brothers and sisters. because of that will to overcome, he's been captain of the football team, the track and field teams.
he's president student government, up here running this graduation. [ applause ] and today jordan becomes the first in his family to go to college. hampton man. this class is also made up of young men like rudolph eastman. where is rudolph? rudolph, i understand was raised by a single mother along with eight brothers and sisters. that rit?! where is rudolph's mother. understand that rudolph's older brother was killed in an act of gun violence.
but in the face of tragedy and hardship, rudolph stayed focused, he worked hard, and today, like jordan, he becomes the first in his family to go to college. [ applause ] a belief in the importance of education, perseverance, character. these are the qualities that charity, jordan, rudolph and so many of you embody. these are the same qualities you'll need, and more, when you leave here and begin the next chapter of your lives. this is equally true for those of you headed to college as it is for those of you with other plans. to those of you who are college bound in the fall, i just hope you make the most of that experience. take advanat comes your way.
make new friends. get to know your classmates. take classes that will challenge the way you think aboutrld. build relationships with professors that inspire you. don't sit in your room. get involved in activities that spark your passions and service organizations that touch your hearts. and the things i've been telling graduates all over this country is study abroad if you can. find a way to travel the world. above all, never stop finding new ways to push yourselves. never stop finding new ways to learn and to grow. and the same goes for those of you who aren't headed to college. you don't have to be on a college campus to educate yourself, or to create new opportunities to grow, or push yourself to think differently about the world. there are opportunities all over d.c. to enrich your lives and your minds. but we also know in this
difficult economy, it's going to be tough to find a job. that means you're going to have to be creative with your approach. here is some advice. be persistent. start with your immediate network of people. folks like the folks up here. reach out to people you admire in your community, teachers, pastors, business owners. talk to them about how they got started in their careers. ask them for adviced most of al. believe in yourselves and what you have to offer. if there aren't immediate prospects for a paid job, do what you can to make yourself more competitive and more marketable. take a class at a community college. see what types of training programs are available at community center, explore service with mer you can always apply later. it's never too late.
the point is, no matter what you're doing next year, you have you to be aggressive. you have to seize every opportunity that's available to you. you can't wait. you can't just sit around. don't expect anybody to hand you anything. it doesn't work that way. if you want your own destinies and you want to control those destinies tomorrow, you've got to start practicing who you will be today. because if you are afraid to step beyond your comfort zone today and reach for the things today, you will always be afraid. if you're afraid to speak up and ask for what you need today, you will always be afraid. don't live in fear but if you begin to take control of your destiny today, graduates, if you push yourself today, if you practice taking risks today,
that's what you'll continue to do for the rest of your lives. and then once you do that, once you grab hold of your future and pull yourselves up, there's just one more thing you have to do. and that is, reach back and pull someone else up after you. [ applause ] because the truth is, none of us can exceed on our own. we all need help along the way. even frederick douglass could not succeed on his own. he needed the help of others to gain his freedom. he needed support to claim his own destiny. and graduates, so do you. and that support will come from teachers like the ones that come from anacostia and friends who have your real best interests at heart. friends who have your back and keep your focused on your dreams.
and it's also going to come from your families. we've got to take a moment to recognize our family members and remember that many of you are here because of what they have done. so this is your day, too. we've got to give the family members a round of applause. [ applause ] and if you're anything like my parents were when i graduated from high school, i can imagine how you would be feeling today. i know you're proud. i know that you're a little relieved. but i suspect that some of you may be feeling a little nervous. maybe you're worried about the tough job market and how your child will find a job in this economy. maybe you're anxious about how you're going to pay tuition and having your child move away from home to attend college.
or if your kids are the first to go to college, you may be wondering how are you supposed to help them navigate experiences that you've never had? i understand those worries because my parents had similar worries. see, my parents didn't have the money to cover college tuition for me and my brother. neither my parents went to college or had any idea how to support us. but family members, know this. you don't have to have lived the kind of life you want your kids to live to help them excel. your kids don't need you to be a doctor or a lawyer. your kids don't need you to be rich and famous. what they need from you is your wisdom. what they need from you is your support. what they need from you is love. that unconditional love that let's them know that you will be
there for them no matter what. that's all your kids need. and trust me, i know because when i was in their shoes, that's all i needed. growing up, there were plenty of times that i doubted my capabilities. and those doubts were fueled by a lot of people around me. kids teasing me when i studied hard, teachers telling me not to reach too high because my test scores weren't good enough, folks making it clear with what they said and didn't say that success wasn't meant for a little girl like me from the south side of chicago. but let me tell you something, something else i remember, i remember my mom pushing me and my brother to do things she had never done herself. things she had been afraid to do herself. what i remember is my father getting up every day and going
to work at a water filtration plant, even after he was diagnosed with ms, even after it got hard for him to button his shirt and to get up and walk. see, i remember my parents sacrificing for us, pouring everything that they had into us, being there for us, encouraging us to reach for a life they never knew. and it is because of them and because of this support that i got from teachers and mentors that i am standing here today. [ applause ] and if barack were here, he would tell you the same was true for him. he would tell you, it was hard at times growing up without a
father. he would tell you, his family didn't have a lot of money. he would tell you he made plenty of mistakes and wasn't always the best student. but he would also tell you that he turned things around, thanks to his mother, grandparents, and the people who cared about him. and listen, graduates, the reason that he and i invest so much of our time and energy in young people like you is because we see ourselves in each and every one of you. [ applause ] we are living proof for you that with the right support, it doesn't matter what circumstances you were born
into, or what your color your skin is or if you're committed, if you're committed to doing what it takes, anything is possible. it's up to you. so i know the journey you've traveled may not have been easy. many of you have faced more than your fair share of hardships and adversities. i know you may be worried about what the future holds. but you have to understand that there are a lot of people out there who believe in you. i believe in you. the president of the united states of america believes in you. [ applause ] when times are hard for us, you inspire us. you keep us going. and we are expecting big things from you in the years to come. big things. we're counting on you to be the very best people that you can be. we expect you to show the same
perseverance, the same character and spirit that made it possible for you to be here today. we're expecting you to show the same commitment to a better life that has always made this country great. we are expecting you not only to claim your own destiny but to help others across anacostia, across d.c., and america claim theirs and what you will do is exactly that. we know that you will make us proud because you already have. congratulations class 2010. we love you. god bless. [ applause ]
>> this is even more significant today because we get to see the rich and famous in washington fairly often. we rarely get the opportunity to see the rich and famous who have come to see us and prepare for us. we are so grateful. this is from the graduates of anacostia and from the people of the anacostia neighborhood. thank you so much. [cheers and applause ]