First Lady to College Grads: You Are ‘Entitled To Life, Liberty And The Pursuit of Happiness’ -- Doesn't Mention 'Creator'

By Penny Starr | June 3, 2016 | 4:50 PM EDT

First lady Michelle Obama.  (AP) 


( – In a commencement speech to graduates at the City College of New York in Manhattan on Friday, first lady Michelle Obama told the students that they are “entitled” to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“This city has been the gateway to America for so many striving, hope-filled immigrants -- folks who left behind everything they knew to seek out this land of opportunity that they dreamed of,” Obama said.

“And so many of those folks, for them, this school was the gateway to actually realizing that opportunity in their lives, founded on the fundamental truth that talent and ambition know no distinctions of race, nationality, wealth, or fame, and dedicated to the ideals that our Founding Fathers put forth more than two centuries ago:  That we are all created equal, all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Obama said.

Obama was referring to the Declaration of Independence, which states: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”   

She did use the full quote, which includes the words, "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." 

Obama spoke to the graduates about overcoming adversity to reach their goals, which she said is the “American story” and one that she, President Barack Obama, and their daughters have lived while in the slave-built White House.

“And, graduates, 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 -- (applause) -- waving goodbye to their father, the President of the United States, the son of a man from Kenya who came here to American, to America for the same reasons as many of you:  To get an education and improve his prospects in life,” Obama said.

She added that she did not think the Founding Fathers “could have imagined this day.”

“So, graduates, while I think it’s fair to say that our Founding Fathers never could have imagined this day, all of you are very much the fruits of their vision,” she said. “Their legacy is very much your legacy and your inheritance.”



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