In a rare entrance into a politically charged controversy, first lady Michelle Obama used a commencement speech Saturday at Jackson State University in Mississipppi to directly target the state’s recently-passed “religious freedom” bill.

“We see it right here in Mississippi — just two weeks ago -– how swiftly progress can hurtle backward,” Obama said. “How easy it is to single out a small group and marginalize them because of who they are or who they love.”

Obama made the comment following an impassioned revival of the state and university’s stained history with regard to civil rights.

“So we’ve got to stand side by side with all our neighbors –- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender; Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu immigrant, Native American — because the march for civil rights isn’t just about African Americans, it’s about all Americans,” she said. “It’s about making things more just, more equal, more free for all our kids and grandkids. That’s the story you all have the opportunity to write. That’s what this historic university has prepared you to do.”

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