Despite the Flash Flood warnings and the incessant rain, thousands cheered and sat patiently when President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, an all-male historically black college in Atlanta, on Sunday, May 19. With his former White House aide on one side, John Silvanus Wilson, Morehouse College’s 11th president and Robert C. Davidson, chairman of the board of trustees, on the other, Obama sang along with the Star Spangled Banner and the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice.”
Preceding his address were the invocation delivered by Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pastored, and Valedictorian Betsegaw Tadele gave a rousing speech, including the line “There is no unachievable if you have the audacity of hope,” from the President’s book.
The President joked to the eager crowd who ignored the downpour and said, “I would be out there with you, but the Secret Service gets nervous,” and he also poked fun at Tadele, calling him, “a skinny kid with a funny name.”
During his 16-minute address to the 2013 graduates, alumni, faculty, family and friends, Obama, discussed race and his experiences, reminding the crowd of Morehouse’s history, a school that educated freed slaves, Dr. King, and this year’s graduates, one, Leland Shelton, who was a foster child and is now headed to his alma mater, Harvard Law School, and the other, Frederick Anderson, a father of three who returned to Morehouse for the third time.
Obama was bestowed an honorary “doctorate of laws” degree by Wilson. –yvette caslin
(Photos by Joi Pearson for Steed Media Service)
Click continue to read the transcript of the entire speech.