U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris delivered the commencement address to the 2017 graduating class of Howard University. An alumna of Howard, Harris spoke to the graduates about the challenges before them, and importance of making their voices heard and serving their communities. She gave them three pieces of advice:

Senator Kamala Harris keynotes Howard University’s commencement (courtesy photo)


“History has proved that each generation of Howard graduates will forge the way forward for our country and our world…You are graduating into a very different time than it was when you arrived a few short years ago. You are graduating into a time when we see a revival of the failed War on Drugs and a renewed reliance on mandatory minimum prison sentences. A time when young people who were brought to America as children fear a midnight knock on the door.  A time when throwing millions of working people off their health insurance to give tax breaks to the top 1% is considered a victory to some. A time when we worry that a late-night tweet could start a war.”

“…So, graduates, I share all of this with you to make the point that there is no limit to what you can do when you detect… and reject false choices. You can advocate for Environmental justice, and you can be the CEO who commits to cutting your company’s carbon footprint. You can march for workers on a picket line, and you can be their voice inside the Department of Labor… You can march for Black lives on the street, and you can ensure law enforcement accountability by serving as a prosecutor or on a police commission. The reality is on most matters, somebody is going to make the decision—so why not let it be you?”

The reality is on most matters, somebody is going to make the decision—so why not let it be you,” Harris asks HU grads during commencement (courtesy photo)

“…At a time when there are Americans—disproportionately Black and brown men—trapped in a broken system of mass incarceration… speak truth—and serve. At a time when men, women, and children have been detained at airports in our country simply because of the God they worship… speak truth—and serve. At a time when immigrants have been taken from their families in front of schools and outside courthouses… speak truth—and serve.”