Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vision, Truth and Love Should Guide the Class of 2008, says Newark Mayor Corey Booker

Morehouse’s newest graduates should strive for greatness while at the same time using their success for the common good, said Newark, N.J. mayor Corey A. Booker.

“If you don’t manifest the truth in the world through your actions, you remain on a log, in a bog without getting anything done,” he said to cheers during the 2008 Summer Commencement ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on Saturday, July 19. “We are people who must live our authenticity through our actions…We are a participating democracy. Get off the couch, get off the sideline and get into the game.”

Sixty-one men of Morehouse became Morehouse men during the ceremony.

They had marched from Kilgore Campus Center, through the heart of campus before entering the chapel to cheers as exuberant parents, family and friends stood, yelled and clapped. One family had blinking red lights on their shirts. A group from Maryland had all dressed in white.

Once seated, the graduates were told to see the occasion not as a culmination, but as a beginning.

President Robert M. Franklin Jr. ’75 urged the graduates to continue striving to
become Renaissance men in his charge to the class.

“Four or more years ago you made a promise, gentlemen,” he said. “Now it’s up to you to make good on that promise…Know that the world will be watching. Always remember you are not average men. You are Morehouse men.”

The audience then heard from Booker, Newark’s mayor since 2006 and a former college football star at Stanford University, a Rhodes Scholar and a Yale Law School graduate. The New Jersey native once moved into a housing project to fight for tenants’ rights and better living conditions and went on a hunger strike in front of another development to protest drug dealing.

He said spiritual lessons in vision, truth and love for his community is what led him to a life as an activist and politician.

“I have been fortunate that there have been so many messengers who have come to me to help me in this value-based, character-based, continuous education in my life,” Booker said.

He said the vision each person had of themselves is stronger than the way the world will ever look at them; the graduates should be advocates of their own truths and that their love should be so deep that generations after them benefit.

“I challenge you now to set your sights high, unleash your truths and to love flagrantly and with abandon,” Booker said.

Booker and new Johnson C. Smith University President Ronald L. Carter ’71 were presented presidential citations in honor of their work.

Ellis Barney Freeman, a retired civil service examiner, was inducted into the Morehouse College National Alumni Association as an associate member of the class of 1933. Freeman entered Morehouse in 1929 but was forced to leave school in 1931 to help support his family during the Great Depression.

By Add Seymour Jr.

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