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Biden Receives Polite Reception at Morehouse College Commencement Despite Tense Political Climate

President Biden Delivers Speech on Gaza Crisis to Morehouse Graduates, Avoids Heckling

President Joe Biden addressed the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and called for an immediate ceasefire during his commencement speech at Morehouse College on Sunday.

The historic Black, all-male college was a significant backdrop for the president’s speech, as college campuses have become the epicenter of pro-Palestinian protests and tense confrontations. Biden’s speech was met with mild applause and no interruptions, a relief for Democrats who feared a politically embarrassing scene.

Biden emphasized the need for a two-state solution and deplored the violence on October 7. He expressed support for peaceful, nonviolent protests and acknowledged that his own family members were angry and frustrated over the situation.

Biden Addresses ‘Heartbreaking’ Situation in Gaza at Morehouse Commencement, Gets Respectful Response

The president also addressed the threats to democracy and the challenges Black men face in America, speaking about the “poison of white supremacy” and the need to root out systemic racism.

The speech was a difficult balancing act for Biden, whose team had been paying close attention to the slate of pro-Palestinian protests across the country. Ahead of the speech, the White House solicited input from a wide range of people, including Morehouse alumni.

Despite the anticipation and potential for disruption, the ceremony remained relatively staid, with only a few students turning their backs on the president or walking out when he was presented with an honorary degree.

Biden’s speech was autobiographical, with the president sharing his own story, from his home state’s tortured history on civil rights to his early career interest in the movement. He spoke about his son Beau Biden’s death and how it inspired him to keep involved in public service.

The president also brandished his credentials, including his service as vice president to the first Black president, his appointment of the first Black vice president, and his nomination of the first female Black Supreme Court Justice.

The speech was a significant moment for Biden, who has seen his support softening among Black voters. Some prominent Black Democrats had hoped that the president could use the Morehouse speech as a moment to recommit to engaging with Black voters, who were critical in delivering Biden the White House in 2020.

As president, Biden has emphasized the importance of HBCUs, investing over $16 billion in these institutions, the most by any administration. However, his standing among young voters has also been impacted by issues like inflation and his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

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