Big Topics for the Commencement Speeches of 2014

PHOTO: Chancellor Marty Meehan posted this photo of himself with Bill Nye on his Facebook. Bill Nye gave the commencement address at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Saturday, May 17, 2014.PlayFacebook
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As graduation season nears its end, commencement speakers from the first lady to America’s favorite "Science Guy" have been dispensing wisdom and life-advice to eager graduates, focusing this year on the haters and deniers.

To look at how commencement speakers are preparing graduates to enter the world we’ve rounded up a few of the big topics from the top commencement speeches of 2014.

Michelle Obama Speaks about Segregation

In Topeka, Kansas, Michelle Obama won over the crowd by giving an impassioned speech about segregation. Addressing students from high schools across Topeka, Obama praised the county for its diversity and integration.

The city is where the landmark “Brown vs. Board of Education” case started, which eventually lead to the Supreme Court decision to outlaw segregated schools in America.

“You all are the living breathing legacy of this case,” Obama told the high school students. Obama also addressed the rising rates of racial segregation in schools across America.

“Many districts in this country have pulled back on efforts to integrate their schools. Many communities have become less diverse,” said Obama. “Today by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were when Dr. King gave his final speech…too often those schools aren’t equal.”

Obama charged the young students with the challenge of promoting diversity and integration throughout the rest of their lives.

Bill Nye Takes on Climate Deniers

Bow tie-enthusiast Bill Nye took on climate change deniers as he gave a fiery speech to the graduates of University of Massachusetts Lowell this morning.

Nye challenged students to “change the world” and to always “question things,” and railed against those who refuse to believe in climate change.

"Conspiracy theories are for lazy people. People that don't want to get down to the business at hand,” Nye said, according to the UMass Lowell Twitter account.

"Instead of just doing less, we have to find ways of doing more with less. That's the key to the future,” Nye was quoted as saying.

Eric Holder on 'Jarring' Reminders of Discrimination

Attorney General Eric Holder did not mince words in his commencement address to Morgan State University, in Baltimore.

Holder spoke out against subtle racism in addition to overt bigotry, believed to be a reference to the Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy scandals.

“Over the last few weeks and months, we’ve seen occasional, jarring reminders of the discrimination and the isolated, repugnant, racist views,” said Holder. “These outbursts of bigotry, while deplorable, are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged…the greatest threats do not announce themselves in screaming headlines. They are more subtle. They cut deeper.”

Holder went on to criticize voter I.D. laws, as disproportionally disenfranchising black voters and “unwarranted racial disparities” in the criminal justice system.

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