What Did Joe Biden Say During His Commencement Speech at Morehouse College?

What Did Joe Biden Say During His Commencement Speech at Morehouse College?

President Joe Biden challenged more than 400 Morehouse College graduates Sunday to fight for freedom and democracy against the forces of divisiveness threatening America.

“You’re all future leaders,” Biden said during the 140th commencement ceremony at the historically Black college in Atlanta. “You’ll face complications and tough moments. … [But] we’re expecting a lot from you.”

Biden’s 27-minute keynote address to the Morehouse Class of 2024 marked the Democrat’s first public appearance on a college campus since an outbreak of student protests across the country criticizing his approach to Israel’s war in Gaza.

“I support peaceful non-violent protest,” he told the students. “Your voices should be heard and, I promise you, I hear them.”

At the same time, the president defended his administration’s policies toward the Middle Eastern war.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “That’s why I’ve called for an immediate ceasefire. … I’m working to make sure we get a two-state solution, the only solution.”

Biden praised members of the Class of 2024 for navigating successfully through the pandemic at the start of their college careers.

“The pandemic robbed you of so much,” he said. “Some of you lost loved ones. … You missed your high-school graduations.”

Even as those incoming Morehouse freshmen were being forced to cope with Zoom classes and meeting their fellow students for the first time while wearing masks, they also had to deal with what the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis meant for democracy in America, Biden said.

“What is democracy if Black men are being murdered in the street?” he said. “Democracy is still the way to call out poison and root out white supremacy.”

With Biden’s rematch with Republican former President Donald Trump looming just months away, the president listed a series of his administration’s accomplishments aimed at improving the lives of Black Americans, including cutting child poverty in half by expanding the federal child tax credit, removing lead from water systems, reducing prescription drug prices, and investing a record $16 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The president criticized Republicans for attacking diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), banning books, and erasing the important role Blacks have played in American history.

“They don’t see you in the future of America, but they’re wrong,” Biden told the students. “We know Black history is American history.”

Republicans responded to Biden’s appearance on the Morehouse campus by slamming the administration’s record with Black America.

“Biden is the one person restraining Black economic growth,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who dropped out of the Republican presidential contest late last year and now is seeking to become Trump’s running mate.

“While Biden failed, President Donald Trump delivered. During Trump’s presidency, we had the strongest, most powerful, and most inclusive economy in my lifetime. More Black voters are moving to the Great Opportunity Party (GOP) because of Donald Trump and our success.”

The one sign of protest during Sunday’s ceremony was a lone graduate who stood at the back, with his back turned to the president and his right fist raised.

Biden received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse President David Thomas at the end of Sunday’s address.

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