The Welcome

Mr. Gerald Smalls
Degree Candidate in The School of Law

To the all-knowing and sustaining power which brought us this great day. We thank God for all that is good and great.

        First Lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chairman of the Board, Mr. Frank Savage, Members of the Board of Trustees, President Swygert, Platform Guests, Faculty, Mentors, HU Staff and Administrators, Family, Friends, and my colleagues, Class of 1998.

        It is my singular honor to be selected to bring greetings on behalf of the Class of ‘98. Welcome to the 130th Commencement Convocation of Howard University.

        Carter G. Woodson wrote in the Mis-Education of the Negro, "When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His mis-education makes it necessary."

        On this day, let me welcome you to a University, which, through its education, requires its graduates to heed Dr. Woodson’s caution. As HU graduates, we are impelled to cut holes in the front door of all institutions.

        This University, better known as the Mecca, requires that we, as graduates, lead and build on the achievements of our forefathers/foremothers. This University, this Land of Education, is placed on sacred ground. Many have sacrificed much to sustain and maintain it.

        I welcome you to the Capstone, an institution that demands that we as graduates lift others up as we climb the ladder of life. I welcome you to the root of the African American community because, through this University, our nation was changed from segregation to integration, from the degradation and humiliation of slavery to liberation and achievement.

        Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure and honor to welcome you to a celebration of a community, for a Howard degree was meant to help all people; for Howard University provides leaders for America and the global community. Welcome to our celebration and may the Grace of God be with you.