Graduates of Tennessee State University agree that he sounds better in person, him being Tom Joyner, nationally syndicated radio host and recipient of a Historically Black College Education himself. Undergraduate graduation commencement occurred Saturday May 6th in Hale stadium on campus. Due to the immense heat at last year’s ceremony and the threat of rain for this years, the commencement started early at 8:00am.
With graduation rolling on through the program, many students didn’t have to wait as long as they anticipated to hear the special guest, Tom Joyner, speak some words of wisdom to the class. Focusing his speech around family, he began by congratulating the parents a happy early mother’s and father’s day, stating that their kids graduating had to be a wonderful early gift.
“If there’s one things that H.B.C.U’s understand that the trump administration doesn’t it is the value in loving, nurturing, and educating people, not for the profit turnaround but for the investment in the future that keeps paying off for generations,” Joyner said.
Joyner quoted Kendrick Lamar’s latest hit ‘I got hustle though, ambition, flow, inside my DNA’ along with other catchy phrases just to inspire the graduates and make some laugh before telling a touching story on his reasoning for why he respects LeBron James more than Michael Jordan not based on their talents but due to their influence. Stating that LeBron gives back and has given back more than Michael ever didand he’s still in the league.
“If I leave you with anything this morning it is to do what you can and everyone can do something, you’re good at something,” Joyner said, “the civil rights movement was made of people who were making phone calls, donating food, letting folks stay in their homes, making posters, volunteering their time and talents people who did what they could.”
Then the topic turned serious, as the nationally renowned speaker acknowledged the recent shooting of Jordan Edwards, another black male murdered by a police officer.
“We’re living in scary times, but sometimes it takes scary times to get us to do something really important and don’t get me wrong graduating is really important, but graduating isn’t all. Choose a cause today and commit yourself toward making a change,” Joyner charged the student body to be activist before making his final remarks, “What better day, what better time, but as I close I want to give you a token to get you started on the right track, everyone from this day on is going to ask you when are you going to start making some money, and the answer is today because when you walk across the stage I’m going to give you 5$, make it count.”
The audience rose in applause for the third time during the speech after that statement, some it took longer than others to make it out but through every trial they made it.This has by far been one of the quickest graduation ceremonies so far in the universities last couple of years. Some give the credit toward the fact that less students walked this year. Others laughed at the fact that it was the dark clouds slowly circling around their heads.
“We tried to move graduation inside this year because of weather issues, but if we would’ve moved it inside then there wouldn’t be enough space for every ones families,” Tyrell Jones, who served as the 2016-2017 school years senior class president said, “So instead of moving it in they moved it to earlier.”
Regardless the time, the time to graduate was finally there and everyone was ready for it.