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2016 Hampton, Howard Grads Urged To Embrace Challenges Facing Black America

Professor Michael Eric Dyson teaches a sociology course at Georgetown University focusing on rapper Jay-Z, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Professor Michael Eric Dyson teaches a sociology course at Georgetown University focusing on rapper Jay-Z, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Special from the Hampton University Newsroom

Michael Eric Dyson didn’t just recite his keynote speech at the Hampton University Commencement ceremony on May 8. He rapped, sang, preached and quoted poetry during the spirited address. Dyson’s main message was having an interpretation of who you are. “You’ve got to have perspective, and the perspective you ought to have is that you come from a great people,” said Dyson, a political commentator, author and professor. “You come from a stock of people that made America what it is today.”

Dyson commended young people today who are protesting and standing up for what they believe. “Your generation has reminded us, that you don’t have to be old to be useful,” Dyson told the 908 graduates. “You don’t have to be old in age to be wise. Your Black Lives Matter movement has been important and it has reminded us that Black lives matter.” In honor of Mother’s Day, Dyson spoke about the “patriarchy of an oppressive culture.” “We’ve got to love our women,” he said. “On this Mother’s Day, we must acknowledge that the women in our lives deserve to be respected and deserve to be celebrated and deserve to be embraced.”


Special from the Howard University News Service

President Barack Obama told Howard University graduates that America is “a better place today” than it was when he graduated from college, but more work needs to be done and urged them to be involved in the political process if they want to see change. “When you don’t vote, you give away your power,” Obama said told the more than 2,300 graduates of Howard University. “Change is the effort of committed citizens … Change requires more than speaking out; it requires listening to those with whom you disagree, and being prepared to compromise.”

Obama received an honorary doctorate of science from the university. It was presented by civil rights icon Vernon Jordan. He said there is still work for Howard’s graduates and others to do. “Racism persists, inequality persists,” he said. He cited income inequality, as well as disparities in unemployment, pay and criminal justice. Disease and conflict worldwide, along with new challenges from terrorism and climate change are also problems that need to be addressed, he said. “So, make no mistake Class of 2016, you’ve got plenty of work to do,” he said. “So, enjoy the party, because you’re going to be busy.”

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