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Friday, June 14, 2024

Clark Atlanta graduation speech may be the best ever


On May 18, 2024 Dr. Daniel Black delivered the commencement speech address for Clark Atlanta University. It was during the same weekend that President Joe Biden spoke at Morehouse College, and actress Angela Bassett delivered the address at Spelman College. But the HBCU commencement that stole the show that weekend was by far Dr. Black at CAU. Below is the transcript of Black’s speech that quickly became a viral sensation.

The speech that moved America

“Here, they come, y’all. Here, they come. Here, they come, y’all. Here, they come. Here, they come, y’all. Here, they come. Doctors, lawyers, writers, business owners, teachers, healers, rapper, preacher. Here they come, y’all. Here they come. Psychologists and sociologists and anthropologists and ethnomusicologists and paleontologists. Here they come, y’all. Here they come. Anesthesiologists and cosmetologists. Dermatologists and embryologists, ontologists, epidemiologists, ophthalmologists, radiologists, blackologists. Here they come, y’all. Here they come. Computer scientists, mechanical engineers, nurses, architects, radio, television, film producers. Economists, accountants, marketing executives, chemists, business analysts. Here they come, y’all. Here, they come. Musicians, mathematicians, astronauts, philosophers, pharmacists, dentists, historians, speech therapists, HR specialists, painters, dancers, actors, janitors, street sweepers, post office workers, plumbers, electricians, paramedics, bakers, construction workers, hairdressers, insurance agents, librarians, veterinarians, humanitarians. Here they come, y’all. Here they come.

The dream of the slave, the hope of the angel, the promise of the ancestors, the answers to grandmama’s prayers, the guarantees of granddaddy’s work. Here they come, y’all. Here they come. The cure to cancer is sitting right here. The antidote for sickle cell anemia is sitting right here. The great negotiator of war and peace is sitting right here. The next generation of black billionaires is sitting right here. Here they come, y’all. Here they come. Listen, Clark Atlanta University, home of the Holy Ghost. Come on somebody.

Now, this is how you know the Holy Ghost live here because some of y’all sitting here. See some of y’all sitting here, people doubted you. But here you are anyway. Somebody said, “No way.” But the Holy Ghost said, “Hell yeah.” See, because some of y’all, the ends didn’t meet. The money didn’t add up. You had to retake a class. You got discouraged. You almost dropped out. You got frustrated. You almost let it go, but the Holy Ghost said, “Hell yeah.” For some of you, you buried somebody you love. You lost more than your heart could take. You cried in the midnight hours. You told God, “I can’t do this no more.” The Holy Ghost said, “Hell yeah.”

Some of you worked 20, sometimes 30 hours a week trying to keep your phone on, a few groceries in the fridge. You actually sent mommy and daddy a little money. It got heavy sometimes. You almost quit. You said, “I’m done. I just can’t do it no more.” The Holy Ghost said “Hell yeah.” For some of you, you gave your heart to someone else and they didn’t respect it. They took you as a plaything and they toyed with your emotions. They thought they were special, but really you were the gift. Still, you were the one hurt and devastated in the end. They thought you were down for the count, but baby, they sitting here looking at you now saying, “Ain’t no way.” The Holy Ghost said, “Hell yeah.”

See, listen y’all, anywhere you go where the Holy Ghost resides, there will be magic. There will be promise, there will be possibilities, and the Holy Ghost has come today to tell you that you didn’t pay all this money to doubt yourself. You didn’t pay all this money to wonder if you’re good enough. You didn’t pay all this money to be unsure of your beauty. You didn’t pay all this money to wonder whether or not you going to get a job. You didn’t pay all this money to sit on the sidelines and clap. No ma’am. No sir.

Listen, if Harriet Tubman ran to freedom you can run to your destiny. Martin Luther King didn’t march for you to get a degree and chill. Bayard Rustin didn’t organize so you could clap for him. Black folks didn’t pick cotton so you could look cute in a black robe. Shirley Chisholm didn’t run for president so you could run away from adversity. Nat Turner didn’t lead a rebellion so you can be afraid of your own voice. James Baldwin didn’t write beautifully so you can be afraid of his words. George T. French, George Tenacious French didn’t come to CAU because he had nowhere else to go.

Let me tell you something.The faculty, we don’t teach here because we have nowhere else to teach. We teach here because black excellence is our hobby. It’s our daily bread. It’s our living water. It’s our reason for waking up in the morning. We teach here because every day we come to work, we see God.

We see God chilling on the promenade. We see God shuffling in Greek paraphernalia. We see God rushing to hand in a paper. We see God shouting to a homie across the way. We see God slinging back braids to the right and the left like she knows who the hell she is. We see God strutting out a Carl and Mary Ware with the freshest fade in the AUC and sneakers so white, they glow in the dark. We see God with locs, wigs, weaves, extensions in every shade conceivable. One day, God is caramel mocha. Another day, God is peanut butter brown. Another day, God is burnt russet. Another day, God is deep, dark chocolate. Another day, God is golden honey brown. Another day, God is shiny black onyx. Another day, God is chestnut. Another day, God is beige. Another day, God is bronze. Another day, God is coffee with cream. Another day, God is mahogany fine. Another day, God is copper bisque. Another day, God is sweet cinnamon. But every day, God is black at CAU. Showing us how to find a way, our Maker.

Don’t y’all know that 400 years ago they thought they had destroyed us. Some folks actually thought they owned us. They scattered us around the world thinking they had destroyed us, but we kept on coming because that’s what we do. We are people coming, people. See, we are the seeds of Africa. We are hope manifested.

HBCU Commencement speech Clark Atlanta Daniel Black, CAU professorHBCU Commencement speech Clark Atlanta Daniel Black, CAU professor
Clark Atlanta professor Daniel Black, Ph.D

But see, the dumbest thing these folks did in the world was to scatter seeds because if you scatter seeds, what these seeds are going to do is bloom and blossom. See, folks keep putting stumbling blocks in our way without knowing that we turned stumbling blocks into stepping stones and we rise higher every time. These folks didn’t know who the hell they brought here. They didn’t know who they enslaved. They thought they brought Negroes to America. They didn’t know that they brought healers and weavers and cooks and farmers and spiritualists and inspirers and teachers and philosophers and psychologists and drummers they didn’t know. They brought dancers and poets and fashion divas and writers and athletes and singers and entrepreneurs and painters and sculptors. They thought that because we were naked, they had stripped Africa from us. What they didn’t know is Africa ain’t on you, Africa is in you.

Listen, you’re in the lineage of the great musician, Fletcher Henderson, who graduated from this fabulous university in 1920. You are in the lineage of Mary Frances Early and Marva Collins, creator of the world-renowned Westside Preparatory School in Chicago. You’re in the lineage of brilliant minds like Kenny Leon and Kenya Barris. You’re in the lineage of genius entrepreneurs like Pinky Cole and Harry Pace. “Who is Harry Pace?” you asked. He was the founder of Black Swan Records, the first black-owned record label of the Harlem Renaissance. He graduated valedictorian from Atlanta University in 1903. He was only 19 years old. Baby, that’s black genius. That’s the legacy of Clark Atlanta University, and you’re also in the lineage of one by the name of Dr. Daniel Black, who at 18 entered Clark College in 1984 and graduated four years later magna cum laude. I said magna cum laude.

Dr. Black went on to earn degrees from Oxford University, Temple University. He is the author of several books, namely “They Tell Me of A Home”, “Perfect Peace”, “The Coming”, “Don’t Cry for Me”, “Black on Black”. And soon to be released, a new black Bible called “The Good Book.”

See, you got to know where you come from. You got to know who you with. You got to know who you’ve been taught by. You got to know who you rubbing shoulders with. Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to other people when God is your guide and God is your hope.

I wrote a little something I’m going to share with you. There are other schools around, but they not like us. Good schools, great schools, but they not like us. This is CAU the proud, the few, the place where excellence debuts. They’re not like us. You say you need a degree. Well, we confer three, the bachelors, the masters, and the PhD. If you want some knowledge, don’t just go to a college. Get to CAU where ignorance is taboo. It’s truly divine when two institutions combine and become home to the divine nine. But don’t be confused. We step and party till we mute. They’re not like us. Your job is to lift us high far, far into the sky. This ain’t no trick. We got to do better than Drake and Kendrick. We standing on business. This the home of the Holy Ghost, the last and the foremost, the east and the west coast. God’s mighty guidepost. The potato and the rump roast, the coffee and the black toast. If you need heaven in your view, you got to get yourself to CAU.

These people don’t know you. They don’t think you’re going to be a lawyer, but you are. They don’t think you’re going to get into med school, but you are. They don’t know that you’re going to teach in public schools and change the way black children see themselves, but you are. They don’t know that you’re going to open a new business no one has ever heard of, but you are. They think that just because you came from a school, they ain’t never heard of that you ain’t the one. But baby, listen, most folks can’t tell you where Jesus went to school, but they show know his name. Just like they bout to know yours, and the Holy Ghost ain’t going to let you lose.

So when people doubt you, graduates, get up and dance. When people laugh at you, graduates, get up and dance. When people don’t believe in you, graduates, get up and dance. When people think they got over on you, dance. Ain’t no telling what you going to be. When ain’t no money on your debit card, dance. When you got to collect money to buy a little gas, dance. When you got to wash your draws by hand, get up and dance. When it looks like all hope is gone, dance, baby dance. Because that’s when the Holy Ghost is setting you up, getting you ready. Ready. Getting the world ready to receive a black Savior this time. You want to boss up your life. All you got to do is get in with me.

And remember one thing, there are other schools around, but they not like us.”

Clark Atlanta graduation speech may be the best ever







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