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Students Rise Up, Turn Their Backs During Biden Speech

This article was originally published at StateOfUnion.org. Publications approved for syndication have permission to republish this article, such as Microsoft News, Yahoo News, Newsbreak, UltimateNewswire and others. To learn more about syndication opportunities, visit About Us.
Morehouse College

Morehouse College commended its students and faculty for their actions during President Biden’s commencement address, where at least seven graduates and one faculty member turned their backs to the president.

Peaceful assembly

The college emphasized the importance of peaceful assembly, stating that it is fundamental to Morehouse’s social justice tradition.

Peaceful protest

The administration expressed full support for the right to peaceful protest and the freedom to openly express one’s views. Referencing its renowned alumnus, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse deemed the organized, peaceful activism during the event as fitting, continuing a vital conversation while the world observed.

Silent protest

Praising the class of 2024 for their unity in silent protest, Morehouse highlighted their strategic approach, effective communication, and coordinated action as a cohesive 412-person group. Following weeks of nationwide campus protests against Israel’s conflict in Gaza, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of at least 35,000 Palestinians according to the Health Ministry, President Biden addressed the historically Black Morehouse College graduates.

Solidarity

Acknowledging the protesters’ voices and expressing solidarity, Biden stated that the images from Gaza also deeply sadden him. He affirmed his support for peaceful nonviolent demonstrations, emphasizing the importance of listening to the students’ perspectives.

Commencement speaker

The decision to have President Biden as the commencement speaker at Morehouse College sparked controversy among some faculty members and individuals critical of his handling of the war. Certain Morehouse alumni circulated an online petition condemning the invitation and urged President David Thomas to revoke it.

Humanitarian crisis

Highlighting the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Biden called for an immediate cease-fire to halt the violence and secure the release of hostages held by Hamas since their attack on Israel on October 7.

Middle East

The president’s remarks on the Middle East were part of his broader commencement address, where he also reflected on American democracy and his commitment to safeguarding it.

Backlash

Despite the initial backlash, the Morehouse commencement proceeded without any major disruptions. The applause for Biden was notably restrained, with seven graduates and one faculty member turning their backs during his speech. Additionally, a student draped in a Palestinian flag made a statement of protest.

Immediate ceasefire

Near the ceremony, protesters carried signs advocating for “Free Palestine,” “Save the Children,” and an immediate ceasefire, while police on bikes monitored the situation.

Awareness

Behind the president on stage, academics displayed a Congolese flag, drawing attention to the civil war in the African nation and calling for increased awareness and American intervention to address the conflict.

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