On Saturday, President Obama gave a 45-minute commencement address at the historically black college Howard University. Obama told the graduates that America “is a better place today” than it was when he graduated in 1983.
Obama also told the graduates that both the world and race relations in America are better today, and that his reelection in 2012 was “just one indicator of how attitudes had changed.”
Then President Obama gave kudos to musical artist Beyoncé and television producer Shonda Rhimes, citing them as two examples of how far blacks have progressed in the United States since the Civil Rights.
“In my inaugural address, I remarked that just 60 years earlier, my father might not have been served in a D.C. restaurant — at least not certain of them. There were no black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Very few black judges,” Obama said. “Shoot, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last week, a lot of folks didn’t even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback. Today, former [Chicago] Bull Michael Jordan isn’t just the greatest basketball player of all time — he owns the team.”
“When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world,” the president added to laughter from the graduates. “We’re no longer only entertainers, we’re producers, studio executives. No longer small business owners — we’re CEOs, we’re mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States.”
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