tv Commencement Speeches Pres. Biden Delivers Commencement Address CSPAN December 18, 2021 6:25am-6:59am EST
i will stay behind these live gates. >> presidential recordings, find on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. ♪ >> president biden gave the commencement address at south carolina state university in orangeburg. he was introduced by house majority whip jim clyburn, who is a 1961 graduate of the university. this is about half an hour. is about half an
>> i'm told the proper way to announce the president of the united states is simply to sate ladies and gentlemen, this is the president of the united dates. -- united states. [applause] >> i learned a long time ago that if you wanted to get anything done with jim, you went to his wife. [laughter] all kidding aside, the story jim tells is act -- absolutely accurate. i got shellacked in the first two primaries. i kept saying i'm waiting to go to south carolina, i mean that sincerely. i come from a state that has eight largest african-american
population. that is the source of my support in delaware. i got down here, things were going pretty slow. i remember someone saying to me and i heard him say to jim, we should be for biden. she is an incredible woman, i will speak about her in a bit. not only did we win, i think we won every district. i just want you to know it matters. jim saying to you, if you don't succeed at first, try again. a lot of you have already figured out that you can do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it. one of the things most people don't focus on anymore is an awful lot of people like jim, like me, a lot of you, don't
expect him to do something significant. i come from a family, raised in a three-bedroom split-level home , with a dad and mom and a grandpa. we were by her bootstraps, i used to stutter badly. stuttering is the only thing -- it is devastating to a stutterer. if you ever saw the king speech, it is worth seeing. i had trip -- trouble talking until i was well into high school. i was convinced that my mother would say never bend, now the -- never bow, just get up.
that's one of the things i like so much about hbcus, which i been part of for a long time. the reason i got elected in 1972 is because in hbcu called delaware state university. [applause] you are inheriting an incredible tradition, graduating from this university. on organization day, i placed my hand on the bible -- on inauguration day, i placed my hand on the bible and look at the national mall. what did i see, south carolina state a spell cap. not kidding. talking to two former presidents , clinton and bush. today i look out, i see jim in his south carolina state cap and
gown, i'm honored you asked me to be here as you receive your diploma. you never got a chance to receive it in person. i know miss emily is here, her spear is here today. this dollar ship in her name. students in the honors college in her name. she is always in our hearts. she was a gift, dear friend and a great american. and she loved this institution. [applause] thank you, president conyers, board of trustees, faculty, staff, whatever patient? rate universities. i'm from delaware, i got up at delaware stay up there, the president of delaware state used to work for me, got his
doctorate and said this is not the good job, i'm going to be president of the university. all kidding aside, of course president harris is a proud howard alum. she might have something to say about overstate. my family and friends, i note the pride you feel for this day as well. graduates, you already did this, but i always do it. you do owe those folks in the bleachers a heck of a lot. [applause] i am sure not a one turn to their husband and wife and said guess what, no tuition semester. -- semester. i just want to say to the parents, we know the sacrifices you made to make sure this day arrived. you're the ones that helped you get through this period.
you've got a lot to look forward to. graduates, i know you already stood to think your parents and families. the fact is, you earned it. you earned every bit of it. remote learning, fearing getting sick from covid-19. feeling the pain for those who lost loved ones. the uncertainty of the devastating economy, reckoning on race not seen since the 50's and 60's. your time here has come during a tumultuous and consequential moment in modern american history. it has led you to graduate at an inflection point in history. no graduating class gets to choose the world in which they graduate. every class in the history of the nation, up to the point, it
was written by others. a few classes, once in every few generations enter a point in american history where they have a chance to change the trajectory of the country. that is not hyperbole. you face that inflection point today. i'm confident you will meet the moment. you're ready because your part of the proud and sacred tradition. in hbcu tradition. more than 180 years of excellence, and institution instills a sense of purpose and commitment to make a difference in all their students. not just to lift up yourselves, but to lift up others. and institution grounded in the belief that every american, of every race that round and zip code should have -- of every
race, background that and zip code -- leaders of industry and entertainment, arts and science, the molders, trailblazers, visionaries and public servants. you know it better than anyone. hbcus helped reduce 40% of all -- produce 40% of all lack engineers in america. [applause] 50% of the black lawyers in america. 70% of all the black lawyers and -- doctors and dentists in america. and 80% of the black judges in america. folks, i see hbcu excellence every day my administration. vice president harris, my
cabinet, michael regan, administrator of the epa, senior white house staff. staff across my administration, graduates, i'm here to congratulate you, but let you know your country, is counting on you. there counting on you to change, to turn the dial. i'm committed to doing everything i can to make real the promise for all americans. that is why we delivered 5 million dollars so far to hbcus just this year. [applause] more to come. there is nothing you're unable to do if you have the product, the laboratories, a lot of these hbcus are not endowed like these other universities. for south carolina state, it
helped clear the balances of more than 2500 students of student debt. no financial hardships caused by the pandemic, and stay in school. it financed -- that is why we are working to increase, we will get it done. pell grant's, another $5,000, so black students in lower income families can attend community colleges, for and hbcus. i'm proposing an historic investment to expand hbcu programs in high demand fields like cybersecurity, engineering and health care. these are the big paying jobs. too many hbcus don't have the laboratories, the capacity. have the intelligence, intellectual capacity, but they
don't have the research in front of them. we are going to create new research and development labs, to prepare students for jobs in the future and establish hbcu research hubs across the station. i also reestablished the present's order of advisors on hbcus, led by friend of mine, dr. tony allen, president of dover state university. he is to work my staff. to engage the private sector. it is beginning to happen. vice president harris is in constant contact with leaders in the divine nine. i signed an executive order to advance hbcu excellence across administration in everything from policies to funding. part of that effort includes recognizing outside -- outstanding hbcu scholars.
like your student council president. there's always more we can do. we are going to lead the way. what makes them so effective is the highest-ranking southern african american ever in the house of representatives is jim never forgets where he came from. don't you ever forget where you came from. that is your secret power. there is no one more effective who knows how to get things done than someone who understands the need to get things done and the people who need it. one understands what folks are going through. that is jim and many of you, and the graduating years ago. the infrastructure bill just signed into law, we are going to create better jobs for millions of people, rebuild our roads,
highways, small towns, rural communities. it means more opportunities for black businessmen, black conger there's -- contractors, black engineers, building black communities back to where they need to be. if you don't know the community, it is hard to know what it needs. it means every americans of every job in being able to turn on a faucet and drink clean water. it means everyone should be able to access high-speed internet, urban, suburban and rural. graduates, you lived it. no student should have to go to a coffee shop or fast food restaurant to get internet so they can do their homework. we are going to make sure it never happens again. this is the united states of america for god's sake. [applause] in criminal justice reform.
we needed from top to bottom. we need judges who to understand the experiences of people, where they come from. i'm proud i've pointed more black women to the federal bench in the circuit court more public defenders to the bench than any administration in american history. the previous record was three black women in eight years. we confirmed for in less than eight months. there is more we can do. there will be lawyers and judges who understand real people and the needs of people. i'm pleased reform, i share the frustration. i know the family well. the george floyd leasing act, it is not going to pass in the senate, the fight is not over, despite republican objection. the justice department, restricted no-knock warrants,
require federal agents to wear and activate body cameras . we are just getting started. this administration is going to continue to fight for meaningful police reforming congress and through executive actions. you will be our next generation of elected officials, police cheese, leading the way. did you see what just happened in new york city? first black woman, head of the police department. [applause] it is my american rescue plan was passed just -- they're shown to reduce violence crop --
violent crime as much as 60%. we don't have to spend less mine, we have to spend more money on police to give them the help they genuinely need. why is a police officer showing up to a suicide? need more social workers there. we need more psychologists there. they need help. prevent violence in the first place. we expanding summer programs and job opportunities, to keep young people save and set them up for success. help 4 million people incarcerated people reenter society. they get a bus ticket and 25 bucks, and up under the same bridge that got them there in the first place. i'm going forward to make sure that everything that is available to anybody else is available to them, notwithstanding the fact they've already served their time. we are going to reinstate access to pell grant's, job training,
apprenticeships, proven pathways to better life. [applause] we need you to lead a lot of these efforts. we are also working to stem the flow of firearms, curb epidemics of gun violence in this country. no greater victims than the black communities. we talk about these mass shootings. guess what, there's a massive shooting everyday in urban america. the number of lives there taken. you will lead the way, community leaders, educators, faith leaders. nonprofit leaders. that is what my daughter is doing right now, she is a social worker. setting up boys and girls club's across the country. you have to give people alternatives, give them a reason to think they can make it. were going to use the government's purchasing powers, new opportunities for devastated
small businesses, including minority owned small businesses to access government contracts. an increase in minority contracts going to minority firms by 2025. we learned there is no difference between a black entrepreneur and a white entrepreneur's success except the black entrepreneur usually doesn't have a lawyer, someone who is going to be there, and account to get it all set up. their idea is is profound, with the help is missing. you will be the entrepreneurs and business owners reinvesting in your communities. on housing, it isn't right. a builder goes out and builds the exact same home into different sides of the interstate, one in an all-white neighborhood, one in an all-black. same home.
moment the last bull does but not home and somebody occupies it, the baucom is worth 20% less than the white home. the moment you live in a black community, -- your insurance is going to be higher. it isn't right. that home on by a black family is appraised about lower rate. there aggressively taking on housing discrimination. how do folks make it to the middle class in working-class circumstances. many of you have done that. you build equity in your home. that's a 90% of the good folk to make it to the middle class -- they get no opportunity to buy home and they build equity. gives the mind to do a range of things. you are going to be the ones leading the way, you understand.
most important of all, we have to protect the sacred right to vote, for god sake. [applause] think about it. i got started in politics because of the civil rights movement. i noticed some of you are looking, wondering how does he know the black national anthem? well because i sat in a black church after going to 7:00 mass. 10:00 on the east side, getting right to go out and desegregate restaurants and movie theaters in my state. guess what? i've never seen an unbending assault on the right to vote. i don't think any of you have. as john lewis said, it is the
only -- without the right to vote, there is no democracy. it is not just about who gets to vote, or making it easier as we used to do to make people eligible. it is about gets to count the vote. whether your vote counts at all. i was chairman of the judiciary committee for a long time. at the end of my stint, before i became vice president, i was able to pass extension of the voting rights act of 1965 for 25 years. i convince strom thurmond of south carolina to vote for. not a joke. i thought we are finally, finally, finally beginning to move. but this new sinister combination of voter suppression and election subversion is
un-american, undemocratic. unprecedented since reconstruction. vice president harris is leading efforts for us. on the anniversary bloody sunday, i directed every federal agency in the united states government -- every agency is heeding the call. for example, the department of veterans affairs is going to make it easier for veterans and their families to register to vote. you know why? they use v.a. facilities. nobody is going to stop anybody. across the board, in addition, the justice department, double the voting rights enforcement staff. john state laws undermining the right to vote. we supported democrats fighting for voting rights bills since day one of our administration, making sure we have a unanimous support among democrats in the senate, which we do. but each time it gets brought up, the other team blocks the ability to start to discuss it.
what used to be called the republican party. this battle is not over. we must pass the freedom of the bow act, the john lewis voting rights act of 1965. we must. [applause] we are going to keep up the fight until we get it done. you are going to keep up the fight. we need your help badly. finally, we continue to confront the oldest and darkest forces in this nation, and racism. there is a through line from a massacre that happened 53 years ago that killed three students for whom this area, this arena is named. a darkness that pierced the grace of mother emanuel church in charlston, which i visited right afterwards six years ago.
in modern times, people coming out in the field in charles -- in charlotte -- charlottesville, virginia, carrying torches and nazi banners. screeching the most anti-semitic and anti-black frederick in history -- rhetoric in history. hundreds and hundreds of them. when asked what he thought about it, he said there are some very good people there. they are racist, fascist. folks, that was four years ago. i never thought i would see that. in my career. the violent and deadly instruction on capitol hill on january 6. i'm going to say something
self-serving, i know a lot about foreign policy. i'm not every major world leader in the last 40 years. i've spoken to over 140 heads of state since i become president. you know what they all asked me? is america going to be all right? what about democracy in america, did you ever think you would be asked that question? i'm not exaggerating, gentlemen. the leader of china, xi jinping where i met with more than any other world leader -- who i met with more than a other world leader. and putin, are very straightforward. democracy can't function in the 21st century, things are too complicated, they moved too fast. the time to get a consensus,
which -- too hard to get a consensus, which democracies require. folks, this is a troublesome time with a significant opportunity. jim and i have engaged in civil rights work our entire careers. despite all the laws enacted through the struggles, we knew we could make progress. one of the things i thought, jim probably didn't, i thought we had some of those major victories, we had finally crossed the threshold. what i didn't realize is you can defeat it but you cannot eliminate it. it just slides back under a rock. when given oxygen by political leaders, it comes out ugly and mean as it was before.
we can't give any oxygen. we have to step on it. we have to respond to it. [applause] it is not who we are. it is a minority, but a majority have to speak up. a profound impact. that is what we have seen the last few years. we cannot, must not give hate any safe harbor. if to shine as bright a light as we can on, call it out. you are going to be the light. let me close with this. the history of the journey of america, progress impossibility and has been written by people who sat where you set out. people like jim and emily. students who met in a jail cell after standing up for what was
right and just. who never stopped. in 1961, they were you. in 2021, you are them. [applause] this is not hyperbole. listen to me and i'm being concise, you're part of the most gifted, tolerant, single best educated generation in all of american history. you are. [applause] with that comes a hell of an obligation. you accept people as they are, black, white, native american, enabled and disabled, gay and straight. you see them as people, fellow americans. we deserve respect and dignity. you're going to see more change in the next 10 years that we've seen in the last 60 because of the incredible change in signs
and technology -- science and technology. you're going to see as traveling commercially the next 20 years that 12,000, 15 thousand miles per hour. things are going to change. it requires educated population you represent to understand it, to translate it, to move it. i have every confidence that no matter your career, you're going to translate change into greater opportunity and prosperity for you and the world around you. when i look out on inauguration day, i saw that south carolina baseball cap. her hope and your optimism, that is why ask the 22-year-old amanda gorman, youngest poet in history -- inaugural poet in
history to read her poem. highway jill, still teaching full-time found her and asked her to speak. here is what she said in her poem: all once we ask how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? now we assert how can catastrophe possibly prevail over us? we will not march back to what was but move on to what shall be , a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent the bull and fears and free. that is who we are. that to you are, class of 2021. i'm not joking. that is us, that is america. we face the inflection point, change the course of history. i'm counting on you to meet the moment. it is in norma's opportunity -- it is an enormous opportunity. i truly believe someone standing at a podium like this at this
university for years from now --four years from now, talk about did we meet the moment? did we meet the moment in world war i? we go down the list, it is going to determine what happens in the next five to 10 years, it is going to determine what looks like 50 years from now. i'm counting on you, i really am. congratulations to all of you, merry christmas and happy holidays. i say to the military, god bless you all and may god protect her troops -- protect our troops. [applause] [applause]
♪ >> this year, the u.s. supreme court took up two cases that could decide the fate of roe v. wade, its landmark ruling on abortion rights. joshua prager, author of "the family roe," talks about the life and times of the woman behind the case. the activism of the court's decision and the impact her actions had. >> her life is such a mirror and a window into this whole big thing of abortion in america and the pro-life wish to say, aha, look at her, look at the cost of abortion. she never had an abortion. what she actually is a fascinating sort of testimony to is the cost of adoption. she struggled enormously emotionally with what it meant to have to relinquish her three children to adoption.