President Obama deserves a ‘high five’ for his Howard speech

Julianne Malveaux
Julianne Malveaux

(NNPA)—I was apprehensive when I learned that President Obama would give the commencement speech at Howard University this year.  I feared a repeat of his Morehouse speech, his yammering and scolding of African Americans in a manner so objectionable as to repulse. The Morehouse speech was, charitably speaking, a misstep. Would Howard be a reset? I was reminded that Ivory Toldson, a Howard University professor, leads the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and understood that Dr. Toldson might have had an opportunity to review the President’s speech. I desperately wanted President Obama to knock his speech out of the park. Guess what?  He did.
He hit all the right notes. He told students to celebrate their Blackness their way. He offered sage, but not scolding advice and seemed nowhere as condescending as he did at Morehouse. I didn’t have the privilege of attending Howard’s commencement, but I had the opportunity to watch the President on television.  He rocked. This was one of the moments when I wish I could give him a high five.
Perhaps President Obama’s last year will be his best year. Perhaps the work he is doing on offering clemency for nonviolent drug offenders will expand.
While he has embraced the principle of pardons, he has offered fewer than 400 so far, even though more than 9000 may be eligible.


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