First lady Michelle Obama has rescheduled a speech to graduating high school students in Topeka, Kan., to alleviate concerns that her appearance would limit tickets to family members.


First lady Michelle Obama, left, and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) listen as President Obama speaks at the LBJ Presidential Library on April 10  in Austin, Tex. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The White House said Obama will speak May 16, one day earlier than her previous plans to speak on graduation day to a collection of graduating high schools at an 8,000-seat arena. Students had begun a petition, signed by thousands, to object to the combining of the graduations over fears that organizers would have to reduce the number of tickets for each family at the arena.

Instead, the schools will hold independent ceremonies May 17, and Obama will speak at the university a day earlier at a "Senior Recognition Day." Her remarks are timed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that helped integrate public schools.