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Michelle Obama not wanted at Topeka graduation

Michelle Obama during her China trip in 2014
Feng Li/ Getty images

Michelle Obama is being added to the guest list for a high school graduation ceremony in Topeka, Kansas, and not all are delighted to see her coming to the event, according to ABC News on Friday. The concerns are two-fold with Mrs. Obama’s presence at the graduation. First and foremost, people are concerned that the number of seats available to family members and friends of the graduates is being greatly diminished due to her being there. Secondly, many are concerned about Mrs. Obama getting the spotlight instead of the graduates.

The graduation ceremony is to be for five Topeka-area high schools in May. The event will be held at a venue which seats some 8,000 persons. In spite of the huge venue, adding Michelle Obama to the list of guest speakers limits the number of seats available to each graduate. Additionally, even though one may believe – on the surface – that having the First Lady of the United States present would be an honor, there are many who are concerned that her presence and her speech will outshine the graduates’ celebratory day as Mrs. Obama is to speak about segregation in education.

Mrs. Obama is to speak about the 60th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The high court’s 1954 case outlawed segregation in schools. According to Yahoo! News, the Topeka school district invited the First Lady or the president to speak on the subject. With Mrs. Obama’s acceptance of the invitation, however, some persons will be knocked out of the graduation’s venue and put in an adjacent hotel in an overflow room. From there, they will watch a broadcast of the graduation. This does not settle well at all with many parents of the graduates.

Parents took their concerns to a school board meeting on Thursday to try to get district authorities to rethink their invitation to Michelle Obama. They do not want her there, and it has nothing to do with their politics. A spokesman for the Topeka school district, Ron Harbaugh, said on Friday that the school officials are working on the logistics and planning for the event. They are also addressing the issue as to how many tickets each family would be given for the event.

Though the event is just a month away, the groundwork for Michelle Obama's Topeka high school graduation visit has not been worked out yet. One suggestion being presented is that Mrs. Obama could come to Topeka and do a speech about the 60th anniversary of the segregation case. However, instead of her speaking during the graduation ceremony, she could speak another time – and possibly another place.

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