A few days ago, Michelle Obama accepted Topeka, Kansas’s invitation to speak at a five–high school graduation ceremony taking place in an 8,000-seat arena there next month. The speech will be tied to the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Brown v. the Board of Education — a case that began as a class action lawsuit in Topeka and eventually led to the abolition of segregated schools in the United States. However, the Associated Press reports that some parents — and teenagers — would rather do without all that gravitas and star power, lest the First Lady upstage the city’s graduating seniors on their big day. Plus, they’re worried about how she would affect “the tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate.”
More than 1,200 Topekans have signed a petition asking the school district to disinvite Obama from the commencement. “They’ve taken the glory and shine from the children and put on Mrs. Obama. She doesn’t know our kids,” said one mother, who just doesn’t see how having this particular stranger at the ceremony might benefit the kids more than another administrator talking about how much the class of 2014 rocks. As one “die-hard Democrat” student told the AP, “No disrespect for the first lady, and it’s amazing that she wants to come speak, I just think it doesn’t belong at graduation.” She’s right, in that having the First Lady there certainly isn’t typical, which is why those gearing up for more standard high-school ceremonies might not appreciate the complaints. An argument about politics would make much more sense.