The Blog

Obama's Morehouse Commencement Speech: Welcome to the Brotherhood

President Obama impeccably and eloquently made the connection between the role Morehouse has played in shaping today's world and the role it will play in shaping the future.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

In February, I was graced via Twitter with the news that President Barack Obama would be my illustrious alma mater's commencement speaker this year. And as an alumnus who graduated just one year ago, and had seen the years worth of efforts to bring him to the institution firsthand, I was instantly overcome with excitement at the culmination of this dream finally realized.

As I streamed the ceremony in my University of Manchester room over 4,000 miles away, the pride that I held in my heart was indescribable. Watching President Obama adorn my alma mater's colors as he addressed a sea of African-American men and their families was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful occurrences my eyes have ever seen.

He began the speech with several clever remarks, including one that provided comic relief to the thousands in attendance who had been getting drenched by the rain for over three hours.

"I also have to say that you all are going to get wet," Obama said. "I'd be out there with you if I could, but Secret Service gets nervous."

His speech then became very candid and personal. His words showed not only a dedication to and appreciation for the African-American community, but also for the unique legacy of Morehouse.

His references to Morehouse specific characteristics such as Dr. Tobe Johnson's political science course, Crown Forum credits and the graduation clearance list in Gloster Hall, brought an instant smile to my face. This recognition of the distinctive Morehouse culture shined bright throughout his entire speech.

"Graduates, I am humbled to stand here with all of you as an honorary Morehouse Man," he said. "And as I do, I'm mindful of an old saying: 'You can always tell a Morehouse Man, but you can't tell him much.'"

Obama impeccably and eloquently made the connection between the role Morehouse has played in shaping today's world and the role it will play in shaping the future. His numerous references to past president of the college, Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, and prominent alumni such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Spike Lee and Maynard Jackson clearly displayed his understanding of the impact the institution has had.

"And over the last 50 years, thanks to the moral force of Dr. [Martin Luther] King...barriers have come tumbling down," Obama said. "Laws, hearts and minds have been changed to the point where someone who looks just like you can somehow come to serve as President of these United States of America."

While the president's empathy towards the African-American community has sometimes been questioned, this speech explicitly answered any doubters. His abundant use of the words "brothers" and "we" appropriately portrayed his connection to and adoration for the 536 African-American male graduates he was speaking to.

Obama pointed to specific problems that are rampant within the African-American community such as poverty, fatherless households and educational deficiencies. He showed the world that he recognizes that these issues plague this demographic in America, and that Morehouse College graduates will play a very pivotal role in solving them.

"There are some things as Morehouse Men that you are obliged to do for those still left behind," he said. "As Morehouse Men you now wield something even more powerful than your diploma you are about to collect, and that's the power of your example. "

To my 536 brothers that crossed the stage, congratulations and welcome to the ranks of alumni: I urge you to remember the lessons learned during your years at Morehouse and the charge that our institution, and now President Barack Obama, has given us.

To President Obama: thank you for serving as an everyday example of African-American male potential along with your remarkable commencement speech, and welcome to the most unique brotherhood on the face of this earth.

Popular in the Community