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Barack Obama assails inequalities in commencement speech to 2020 HBCU grads

Barack Obama has been notably more vocal since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic and with Joe Biden becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Obama, 58, has stepped up his attacks on the White House for its abysmal mishandling of COVID-19 and pointed out how the disease is disproportionately impacting communities of color. The former president also mentioned the controversial fatal shooting of an unarmed Black jogger in Brunswick, Georgia, in February as a way to illustrate to HBCU graduates that inequalities still permeate American society.

In his online commencement speech to the class of 2020 which graduated from historically black colleges and universities this year, former President Obama did not mention the current president by name.

“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,” Obama told the graduates in the speech that was broadcast on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Obama also told the HBCU graduates that the COVID-19 pandemic “just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that Black communities have historically had to deal with in this country.”

The inequalities Obama spoke of are visible not just in the realm of public health but also “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.”

Obama encouraged the students to learn to circumnavigate the racial obstacles and landmines in order to attain their goals.