I sympathize with the families of the Class of 2014 of Topeka’s high schools.
The announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama would be delivering the commencement speech for next month’s graduation exercises will now limit seating and rearrange celebrations has put many in a bind.
It’s an unfortunate statement of where the world has come from the days when Harry Truman could stroll around the streets of Washington without a security detail to the now overweening presence of the Secret Service in the lives of our leaders and the NSA in our business.
That said… Come on, Topeka.
Don’t deprive your children of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The First Lady’s visit is meant to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the landmark ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education that began the long process of school desegregation.
Lest we forget, the Board of Education in the Brown case is, in fact, Topeka’s own board.
Whatever you think of the Obamas, the fact that, 60 years after the President and his wife would have been disallowed entry into some American public schools by dint of their race, they, with their daughters, now live in the White House.
This is not only a moment to celebrate the small step of a high school graduation, but also the immense leap the nation has made.
It’s not a moment singularly about Michelle Obama, it’s not really even singularly about the graduates. It’s about marking time in America and doing so together — black, white, rich, poor — a moment largely unimaginable in 1954.
It is a story that the Class of 2014 of Topeka will tell as long as they have breath.
The rest of us should be telling it, too.