Grade A Certified

President Obama Delivers Hampton University’s Commencement

Posted by T. Adeyemi on May 12, 2010

Let’s just say for the last 4 days you’ve been oblivious to every news site and news channel from Virginia to Los Angeles. (Actually, let’s expand that realm to anywhere worldwide.) Okay, so maybe I am bias, but nonetheless if President Barack Obama touches down on your camps I'[m sure you’d recognize the magnitude of his presence as well. With that said, for all the 2010 graduates of Hampton University it was an extreme honor to have President Obama as their commencement speaker.

The class of 2010 petitioned Hampton University’s President, William H. Harvey to invite several desired guests to speak at their graduation. However, there was one name that seemingly trumped the others, that of President Obama’s. The President (or B.Dot as I call him, oh you didn’t know we were on nickname basis?) has been friends with President Harvey for quite some time and had promised to return to Hampton’s campus after visiting the area during his campaign run of 2008.

Several key words left lasting impressions from President Obama’s speech, one of which was service. Obama challenged the graduates to dedicate moments of their lives to service not only for their careers, but their communities and families alike.

“All of us have a responsibility, as Americans, to change this; to offer every child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy,” he said.  “But all of you have a separate responsibility, as well. To be role models for your brothers and sisters. To be mentors in your communities. And, when the time comes, to pass that sense of an education’s value down to your children.”

He went on to say that the founders of HU and the other HBCUs understood that while discrimination would persist long into the future Obama also spoke about the furthering of education through Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU). Obama cited the founders of Hampton along with other HBCU’s as symbols of the movement of education through the perils of racism and discrimination. He spoke of his belief that, “with the right education, those barriers might be overcome and our God-given potential might be fulfilled. They recognized, as Frederick Douglass once put it, that ‘education…means emancipation.”

With every word that President Obama spoke each graduate and attendee gained further hope for the future that America has in store for each of them. For the graduates, this was their inauguration into the real world. Leaving behind the memories of on-campus pajama jams, dormitory step shows, and many other Hampton memories the class of 2010 was encouraged to recognize their opportunities and take hold of them. To quote President Obama as did the valedictorian of the class of 2010 in her speech, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”


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