Just a quick note, thanks to reader Barry who alerted me to this item. On last evening’s news, I watched part of Obama’s commencement address to the graduates of Howard University (a historically black college in Washington, D.C.), and I have to say that it was pretty stirring. Now, as his term comes to an end, I’m even prouder of this man.
Here’s his whole 45-minute address should you want to watch it (you should!):
The Hill reports one especially good bit of the speech: Obama’s call for intellectual diversity (and the right of free speech) on college campuses. (See the next post for more on this):
“There’s been a trend around the country of trying to get colleges to disinvite speakers with a different point of view or disrupt a political rally,” Obama said at his commencement addresses at Howard University.
“Don’t do that, no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths,” the president said. “Because as my grandmother used to tell me, every time a fool speaks, they are just advertising their own ignorance. Let them talk.
“Listen, engage, if the other side has a point, learn from them. If they’re wrong, rebut them, teach them, beat them on the battlefield of ideas.”
Obama appeared to be referring to a series of incidents in recent months where controversial speakers were shouted down or had their events cancelled on college campuses, as well as loud protests that have shut down rallies for presidential candidates.
He also singled out one student, Ciearra Jefferson, at 42:10, and extolled her for fighting for an education. You can see her at 43:15 as she stands up, weeping. It was deeply moving.
The ending (keep listening for the last two minutes) is lovely.
The full transcript of his speech is here.