President Obama's Commencement Speech At Howard

"If you had to choose a time to be, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, 'young, gifted, and black' in America, you would choose right now." 
- President Obama.

Yesterday, May 7, 2016, Howard University was extremely lucky to host the sitting president as their commencement speaker and also bestowed upon him a honorary degree. Also present was Cicely Tyson; she too like the president received an honorary degree. Like I said on my Facebook post about President Obama's speech, just when you think the dude has given his best speech...bam! He blows your mind. It was an empowering, motivational, and inspirational speech, just to say the least. I think the really amazing thing about most of what he said is that in ten years time, they will still be valid.

"When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and BeyoncĂ© runs the world. We’re no longer only entertainers, we're producers, studio executives. No longer small business owners—we’re CEOs, we’re mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States."

Besides being just inspirational, and a pretty much brilliant speech, there were practical lessons to be learned from everything he said. One part that really struck a chord in the speech was what he said about  learning  to empathize with all persons struggling—blacks, women, gay, transgender, and yes, “even the middle age white guy who you may think has all the advantages, but over the last several decades has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change, and feels powerless to stop it. You got to get in his head too.”

It's too easy to get carried away by our own problems either as a member of a particular race or gender that we forget about the one thing that binds us all: our humanity.


Frankly speaking, all the politicking aside, I think the President is a really great guy. You hear it in him when he expresses compassion. You hear it in him when he talks about compromise, which is a really important part of human discourse generally. Compromise isn't something you often hear politicians talk about these days. And it's not just a "millennial" problem. Even the old guys in politics; they have their lofty ideas on how to make America perfect, but then they stick to it even in the face of every opposition. Now, like the President said; it's good to have values and principles. But sometimes you have to get off your high horse and ask yourself what really matters: your selfish ambitions or the people you were called to serve? Many politicians all over the world would rather shut down a government, watch the people suffer, or destroy the political system...for  their own goals and ideas.

Oh one last thing was his emphasis on strategy in addition to passion. Christ, everyone is passionate these days; we have ambition and a collective voice. The question is: are you willing to do anything? Or would you just rather tweet hashtags and cyber-bully anyone with a counter opinion than yours? In other words, be willing to back your talk with actions. Do something, no matter how little. Vote. Write your representatives, be a part of the process somehow.

And that's it, ladies and gentlemen. I hope with these few words of mine I have been able to convince [and not confuse] you that the President's speech was a great one. haha.

You can watch it below, or read it here.


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