Barack Obama Calls Out Lack Of U.S. Leadership Amid COVID-19 & Ahmaud Arbery ‘Injustice’ In HBCU Commencement Speech [WATCH]
Former President Barack Obama gave a virtual commencement address at a ceremony for graduates of historically black colleges and universities on Saturday. The two-hour event called, “Show Me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition” celebrated more than 27,000 students from 78 schools. Barack Obama took the time to encourage young black graduates that even though this is not the ideal situation, things will get better. He also made light of some of the spring events that they wouldn’t be able to turn up at.
“Now look, I know this isn’t the commencement any of you really imagined. Because while our H.B.C.U.s are mostly known for an education rooted in academic rigor, community, higher purpose — they also know how to turn up. Nobody shines quite like a senior on the yard in springtime. Springfest at schools like Howard and Morehouse, that’s the time when you get to strut your stuff a little bit. And I know that in normal times, rivals like Grambling and Southern, Jackson State and Tennessee State, might raise some eyebrows at sharing a graduation ceremony.”
During the commencement speech, the former president also addressed the racial disparities in healthcare, one example being the current coronavirus pandemic. Barack Obama also mentioned the current murder case of Ahmad Arbury, who was allegedly killed by Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34 while Arbury was jogging through the neighborhood.
“We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog, and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning. Injustice like this isn’t new. What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing; that the old ways of doing things don’t work”
But the quote that really set social media on fire was President Barack Obama’s comments that seemed to be toward the administration for current President Donald Trump and how they have handled the coronavirus pandemic thus far.
“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
He wraps up the speech by encouraging young black people to stand up against injustice in other marginalized communities as well so that everyone could achieve freedom one day.
“So rather than say, “What’s in it for me?” or “What’s in it for my community? And to heck with everyone else,” stand up for and join up with everyone who’s struggling — whether immigrants, refugees, the rural poor, the L.G.B.T. community, low-income workers of every background, women who so often are subject to their own discrimination and burdens and not getting equal pay for equal work; look out for folks whether they are white or black or Asian or Latino or Native American. As Fannie Lou Hamer once said, “nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
See the full speech below.
Congrats to the high school Class of 2020, as well as to the teachers, coaches, and most of all, parents and family who’ve guided you along the way. Thanks for letting me be part of your big day! pic.twitter.com/RjYvHs2BhC
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 17, 2020
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