Advertisement

Biden to SC State grads: ‘I’m confident you’ll meet the moment’

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 5:36 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2021 at 4:15 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCSC) - President Joe Biden told new graduates of South Carolina State University they can do anything they want if they set their minds to it.

Biden spoke to 138 graduates receiving their degrees from the school, making the first time in the college’s 125-year history that a sitting president served as commencement speaker.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn was to have been the commencement speaker until he was able to call on the president to speak. Clyburn joined Biden on the dais and introduced him.

But it was a historic personal moment for Clyburn, a 1961 graduate of the college. When he earned his diploma 60 years ago, he did not have the opportunity to walk across the stage to receive it because at that time, the school did not offer graduation ceremonies in December. Though he did receive his original diploma by mail, Clyburn took his walk across the stage Friday morning.

President Joe Biden walks with U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (left), moments after Air Force One landed...
President Joe Biden walks with U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (left), moments after Air Force One landed in Columbia. Biden is set to give the commencement address at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. Clyburn, a 1961 graduate of the school, was originally set to be the commencement speaker, but Clyburn will walk across the stage to receive his diploma. When he graduated in December of 1961, the university did not offer December ceremonies.(Live 5)

He praised the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, saying he sees HBCU excellence every day in his administration.

Speaking to the graduates, Biden said graduation had come at a “tumultuous and consequential moment” in history and said Friday’s graduates had the chance to the trajectory.

“No graduating class gets to choose the world and under which they graduate. Every class enters the history of the nation up to the point that has been written by others, but few classes every once in a few generations enter at a point in American history where it actually has a chance to change the trajectory of the country,” Biden said. “That’s not hyperbole. You face that inflection point today. I’m confident you’ll meet the moment you’re ready because you’re part of a proud and sacred tradition. An HBCU tradition. More than 180 years of excellence. Institutions that instill a sense of purpose and commitment to make a difference in all their students. Not just to lift up yourself, but to lift up others.”

During the speech, Biden touched on the infrastructure bill, police reform and voting rights.

“This administration will continue to fight for meaningful police reforms in Congress and through additional executive actions,” Biden said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn is presented with his diploma during SC State University's commencement...
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn is presented with his diploma during SC State University's commencement ceremony. Clyburn, a 1961 graduate of the university, was unable to walk in 1961 due to the school not holding December ceremonies at the time.(Live 5)

Friday’s visit was Biden’s first trip to South Carolina since February of 2020 when he won the Democratic primary.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.