ell your story. Remember the lessons of Medgar Evers College. Exhale!
Those were among the messages aimed at 1,100 graduates of Medgar Evers College last Friday at the 45th annual commencement at Barclays Center.
Donna Brazile, the veteran Democratic political strategist, educator, and commentator, gave a keynote address that was by turns serious and playful. Her main theme was that the freedom struggle continues. Medgar Evers has prepared its graduates for greatness, she said, and those men and women receiving degrees should finish the work of many others, from Maya Angelou to Booker T. Washington.
Ms. Brazile was awarded an honorary degree at the ceremony. â€œCongratulations class, Iâ€™m a Cougar today!â€ Ms. Brazile exclaimed, in reference to the college’s mascot. Her speech can be heard here.
In a more reflective vein, Ms. Brazile noted that the political season could end with the ability to â€œsay Madame President for the first time,â€ an allusion to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Ms. Brazile also reminded the graduates that â€œthis school was named for someone who continues to inspire us,â€ meaning Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader.
â€œItâ€™s important who you take for your inspiration,â€ Ms. Brazile added. â€œWe are the living embodiment of his struggle and his sacrifice.â€
In another nod to politics that drew sustained applause Ms. Brazile said: â€œMedgar Evers College is going strong. Donald Trump University is closed.â€
â€œYou have the keys to keep it closed if you vote,â€ she continued. â€œWeâ€™re not going to open up the doors of hate anymore.â€
She nudged the graduates to harness the power of their imaginations and to shape history.
â€œStop waiting for the door to open!â€ she exclaimed. â€œBreak it down!â€
Other speakers, included valedictorian Shanice Coull (Bachelor of Arts in English), Dexter Roberts, the Student Government Association President (Bachelor of Science in Business) and Marsha Escayg, Senior Class President (Bachelor of Arts in Psychology) praised their classmates for their hard work, friendship and success.
Ms. Escayg quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X in her speech. She warned the class that in the years ahead she would often be in touch about alumni events. â€œCome back,â€ Ms. Escayg said. â€œGive back.â€