Speaking to the graduating class of Washington, D.C.'s Howard University, President Barack Obama emphasizes that his election hasn't created a "post-racial society" despite improved race relations. "Very few black judges", Obama said.
"Don't do that, no matter how ridiculous you might find the things that come out of their mouths", Obama said.
As he has begun to contemplate leaving the White House, Obama has sought to promote civic engagement at a time when the USA voting participation rates remain low among advanced democracies. "It's math. If you have more votes than the other guy, you get to do what you want". If you had to choose a time to be, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, "young, gifted, and black" in America, you would choose right now. "Not just when it's cool".
President Barack Obama on Saturday delivered what may be the final commencement speech of his presidency at Howard University.
Obama took office in January of 2009 as the first African-American president, but he has encountered strain of opposition that often appears to be racially driven.
Obama's address was sprinkled with references to other icons of black history, including Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin.
According to NPR, Obama tagged the university as the "centerpiece" of the black American's intellectual life.
Mr. Obama noted the United States had a racial gap in economic opportunities: the overall USA employment rate is about 5 percent, but it is near 9 percent for African-Americans. "I think he's done as much as he can in eight years". During the presentation at the HBCU located in Washington, DC, the POTUS offered his thoughts on current racial inequality as well as the advancement of African-Americans in the country over the last 30 years. "Now that he's got his second-term swag on, he's able to let loose a little bit", she says. "I promise you, you will have to deal with that at every stage of your life". "Nobody promised you a crystal stair". That's a pet peeve of mine: People who have been successful and don't realize they've been lucky. He noted there were still too many barriers to voting and said there was a "legacy" of blocking people from voting and a reason why some officials had an interest in blocking voters from the ballot box.
Obama was presented by former Clinton administration adviser Vernon Jordan.
One of the most memorable lines of the day was when Obama encouraged the students to "Be confident in your heritage, be confident in your blackness".
"We can not sleepwalk through life". He blew up categories. "People didn't know what Prince was doing, and people loved him for it".
"You need a strategy", he said, adding that passion and anger are not enough to effect political change and encouraging them to embrace compromise.