First lady Michelle Obama cancelled plans to speak at a joint graduation ceremony for all five public high schools in Topeka, Kan. after an outcry that the large event would mean limited seats for family members of graduates.
Mrs. Obama will instead speak at a “Senior Recognition Day” on May 16, the day before each high school holds their official graduation ceremony, the White House announced today.
The first lady’s appearance was planned to recognize the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The high schools typically hold separate graduation ceremonies, and many families had expressed concern that a combined event with limited seating would detract from planned family celebrations.
Topeka, home to a national historic site maintained to commemorate the case, obviously has an interest in remembering Brown. It was there that 13 parents filed suit, challenging the district’s decision to deny their 20 black children enrollment in segregated white schools. That case was combined with four others before the Supreme Court considered it.
Mrs. Obama is also scheduled to speak at Dillard University and the District of Columbia College Access Program, the White House has said.