Morehouse Grads Turn Their Backs On Biden, Walk Out Of Ceremony
A faculty member raises a fist as US President Joe Biden speaks during a graduation ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Sunday, May 19, 2024.
(Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Some of the students who on Sunday attended the graduation ceremony at Morehouse College, one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), turned their back on President Joe Biden as he delivered a commencement address.

The Associated Press reported that at least seven graduates and a faculty member sat with their backs turned as Biden spoke. A group of students even walked out as Biden received an honorary degree, according to The New York Times.

At least some of the graduates at the Georgia school appeared to be demonstrating in response to the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip as some of them were seen wearing a Palestinian flag or keffiyeh scarves around their shoulders or necks.

Valedictorian DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher, who spoke before Biden, said that it was his “stance as a Morehouse man — nay, as a human being — to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.”

Biden, who clapped in response to Fletcher’s statement about Gaza, later used his address to intermix statements about the Israel-Hamas conflict with declarations about how he added black people to his administration and the courts.

“I support peaceful, non-violent protest. Your voices should be heard. And I promise you, I hear them,” Biden said, adding soon after, “It’s a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That’s why I’ve called for an immediate ceasefire, to stop the fighting. Bring the hostages home.”

Leading up to the ceremony on Sunday, faculty members at Morehouse College expressed concerns about “rumors” they were hearing about Biden’s commencement address as student protests over the Israel-Hamas war took place on university campuses across the country.

Kendrick Brown, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morehouse, told staff in an email the college was extending “an opportunity for faculty with different perspectives on the selection of our Commencement speaker to ask questions and make comments.”

He added that students would also be able to “engage” with college President David Thomas while declaring, “Please know going into this conversation that the College does not plan to rescind its accepted invitation to President Biden.”

Polling in recent months indicates that more black voters, particularly among black men, are ditching Biden and said they plan to support former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election across several battleground states — including Georgia.

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