Biden Discusses Gaza Crisis During Commencement At Morehouse College

 May 21, 2024

In a compelling address during Morehouse College's commencement, President Joe Biden tackled pressing global and national issues. Clad in a maroon gown symbolic of the institution, Biden spoke to the gathered graduates about challenges ranging from international conflicts to systemic racism within the United States.

Addressing a historic Black college, Biden intertwined the dire situation in Gaza with reaffirmations of democracy and civil rights, Politico reported

The President's speech, which took place on a recent Sunday in Atlanta, not only celebrated the graduates' achievements but also provided a platform for political expression. Morehouse College is known not just for its academic excellence but also as a critical venue for African American political and social discourse.

Global Concerns Mirrored at Historic Venue

During the commencement, Biden emphasized the importance of an "immediate ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip and advocated for a "two-state solution" to address the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. He highlighted the necessity of returning hostages, shedding light on the complexities of international relations.

Biden’s comments came amid a backdrop of national and local protests, reflecting widespread concern over the situation in Gaza. The choice of Morehouse for these remarks was noteworthy, given the institution's role in fostering leaders who often tackle such intractable problems.

Interestingly, some students expressed their dissent not with words but with actions. During the ceremony, a few turned their backs and others briefly walked out as Biden received an honorary degree, signifying their mixed reactions to his policies and his handling of various national issues.

Biden's Personal Reflections and Commitments

Apart from international politics, Biden also delved into domestic concerns, specifically the hurdles faced by Black men in America and the existing systemic racism. He candidly discussed his personal connection to civil rights, influenced profoundly by the death of his son, Beau Biden, and his own continuing public service. This narrative added a layer of personal touch to his politically charged speech.

Adding a lighter note, Biden joked about the influence of Morehouse men in his administration, suggesting the strong impact the institution's alumni have at the national level.

Furthermore, Biden acknowledged the contributions of Vice President Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumna, hinting at the possibility of Morehouse breeding future presidents.

Preparation Amidst Protests and Policy

Preparation for Biden's speech included anticipation of responses to his remarks on hot-button issues such as the conflict in Gaza. The administration seemed aware of the national sentiment, especially among students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), where protests were reportedly less intense yet palpable.

Before the commencement, Biden connected with students and alumni at Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta. These engagements underscore the President's ongoing commitment to dialogue with younger generations, particularly on consequential matters.

The speech also highlighted the administration's financial support for HBCUs, with over $16 billion invested under Biden’s term so far—a record in federal support for these institutions.

Criticism and Support: A Delicate Balance

Despite the significant initiatives and funding, Biden’s approval ratings among Black voters have seen some decline, influenced by dissatisfaction with his management of various issues, including economic policies amid rising inflation.

His acknowledgment of peaceful, nonviolent protests during his speech also resonated with many, bridging his administration's actions with the advocacy on the ground: "I support peaceful nonviolent protests. Your voices should be heard and I promise you I will hear them," Biden assured.


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