By Vann Newkirk
Last week, President Obama delivered what could prove to be a seminal speech at Morehouse College’s 2013 commencement ceremony. During the speech, which was considerably less “safe” than what I expected and what Mr. Obama has shown at other commencements, he touched on issues at the core of Black male identity and made some very personal appeals to Morehouse graduates. This was one of a very small handful of speeches that Obama has made that directly and deeply address Black racial identity, and, save maybe his speech on race during the 2008 primaries, this was probably the most daring. I didn’t know he had it in him. Check out a transcript here, or look at the video below:
The soaring speech addressed a bit of everything, from personal touches for Morehouse students (I wish I had a President on hand to allow some Crown Forum Forgiveness–I’ll accept student loan forgiveness as recompense, though) to Black social responsibility and differing views on Black masculinity. My own sentimentality to alma mater and President aside, I think the parts of the speech that held me the most were his implicit repudiation of the Talented Tenth philosophy, one that Morehouse has espoused to varying degrees in its history, and his strong (if brief) exploration of standards of Black masculinity.