The chaos of this year’s presidential election notwithstanding, there are still some people who are here to argue that we’ve made a good amount of progress recently. One of those people is our current president, Barack Obama, who gave a commencement speech at Howard University emphasizing this progress.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Obama spoke about how when he graduated from college in the early 80s, there were hardly any black CEOs, judges, or any others in positions at that level. Contrast that to now:
“A lot of folks didn’t even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback,” Obama said. “When I was a graduate, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. Rap and hip-hop were counter-culture. Now (Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy producer) Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night and Beyonce runs the world.”
In addition, President Obama also spoke about how far we still have to go in terms of equality, specifically “disparities in unemployment, pay and criminal justice.” As NPR reports, Obama urged Howard University’s graduating class to look out for those who are still struggling:
“We have cousins, and uncles, and brothers, and sisters, who we remember were just as smart and just as talented as we were but somehow got ground down by structures that were unfair and unjust, and that means we have to not only question the world as it is, and stand up for those African-Americans who haven’t been so lucky.”
One way to do that? Voting. As Obama says:
“People try to make this political thing really complicated … you know what? Just vote. It’s math. If you have more votes than the other guy, you get to do what you want.”