Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland, the first Black governor of that state and the only Black governor in the United States addressed the 139th graduating class of Morehouse College on Sunday, May 21. Moore, only the third Black governor in U.S. history urged Morehouse graduates and student to be vigilant about attempts to erase or rewrite Black history.
“As Black men in America, we know our present is the result of the fights, the struggles, and the victories of the past. We are here because of people who marched and prayed over generations…,” Moore stated. “And since history is one of the things that helped get you here, it is the very thing that can also move you forward.”
With more than 400 grads, alumni friends and family on Century Campus for the ceremony, Moore emphasized the connections of the past and the present and his hopes for their impact on the future.
In an exclusive interview with Gov. Moore he shared his thoughts on the prospects for the future of Black graduates and insights for post-graduate pursuits.
On the outlook for graduates entering a world in transition …
“Well, I think I think the outlook is strong. And the outlook is powerful, because I think that they’re going to walk into a society, that really does underscore their importance, that understand that underscores their relevance and the fact that their education was not just simply about the the basic frameworks of education or their individual majors. There is a sense of empowerment about their history, their contributions, and their future. And so I think that there’s a there’s a psychological, not just academic advantage … that these these graduates are walking into the world in a way that the world needs them to do it.
Advice to graduates with political aspirations:
“I’d say, the thing that I would ask them to do is, find that thing that makes your heartbeat a little bit faster, and attack that. Go after that. Build your allegiances, build your alliances. And then if there are people at that point [with you] when you choose to go into and run for public office, you have your base.
But [they] should not think, ‘I want to just run for office for … office sake.’ The the position is too important for that. You need to find what is it that you are going to do? What is it that you believe that running for office uniquely gives you the ability or capacity to be able to address an issue, and then go do it. And the only way that you can do that is if you’re able to show that you’ve done the work, if you show that you were able to [build] your base, you have your foundation, and now you believe it’s time to be able to look at it from a different type of lens and perspective.”
On unifying the country, and improving the way we treat each other …
“I would say that we’ve got it, we’ve got to start being a culture that’s going to get to know each other. And it’s a reason why [if] you live in the state of Maryland, we’ve done things like we passed [a bill] where Maryland was the first in the country that has a service option for all of our high school graduates where high school graduates can have a chance to have a year of service to the state of Maryland. You know, the reason that I offered that bill, the reason that I pushed for it and the reason that I was proud to to introduce it and sign it was because service is going to help to save us.
You know, people who serve together generally stay together. And in this time of political divisiveness, and political vitriol, it’s service. That’s what helps save us. And so so we’ve got to get to know each other again. Because I also believe that if we can do that, we’re going to end up in a a better place and in a better situation as a society.
The much lauded governor went on to explain how history will be the guide for navigating the future to achieve successful outcomes for students.
” Our history is our power. I have come to tell you that you must hold this history close – because life will test you, and when it does, your history will give you the power to meet the challenge,” Gov. Moore said.
“When politicians ban books and muzzle educators, they say it’s an effort to prevent ‘discomfort and guilt’ – but we know that’s not true. This is not about fear of making people feel bad. This is about fear of people understanding their power. This is about fear of you realizing that you come from a long line of titans – and visionaries – and dreamers – and pioneers – people who defied the odds and helped build this nation with their hands, their hearts, and their minds.”
Moore concluded the address with a directive for the graduating class of men. “Today, I am calling on you, class of 2023, to confront this threat as you move to the next stage in your lives. Celebrate your history – unapologetically.”