Atlanta, GA – President Barack Obama delivered a commencement address to Morehouse College on Sunday, stressing the importance of personal responsibility to the school’s historically-black, all-male graduating class.
“My whole life, I’ve tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn’t for my mother and me,” Obama said, referring to his own childhood.
“I want to break that cycle where a father’s not at home, where a father’s not helping to raise that son and daughter. I want to be a better father, a better husband, a better man.”
He told the 500 graduates to “keep setting an example for what it means to be a man.”
He told graduates that they have an obligation to “those still left behind” in the African-American community to be role models both personally and professionally.
President Obama also seemed to suggest that the graduating class can’t blame discrimination in the country for their own failings from here on out. Encouraging them to do the right thing no matter what, he recalled:
“Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency sometimes to make excuses for me not doing the right thing.”
“But there is no longer any room for excuses,” he said.
The Morehouse College commencement address was notably more personal in tone and content than the speech President Obama gave to Ohio State University graduates two weeks ago.
That speech focused on “citizenship” and themes of civic duty.
He talked about recent tragedies in Aurora, Newtown and Boston, pointing out their respective aftermaths as examples of “courage and compassion, a sense of civic duty, and a recognition that we are not a collection of strangers.”
“That’s what citizenship is,” he said.
What do you think of President Obama’s speech to Morehouse College grads?
[Image via: Erica Joy, Flickr]