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Morehouse College Flunks Graduation

This Sunday, Genocide Joe Biden spoke and was given an honorary degree at Morehouse College graduation. Morehouse is a historically Black all-male college in Atlanta.

With the exception of a relative handful of student and faculty protesters, the students and faculty of Morehouse College overwhelmingly allowed themselves to be used as props for Biden at their graduation ceremony. Biden is the head of the empire that is the main funder of Israel’s genocide on the Palestinian people. Morehouse students, faculty, and family: To allow Biden to be celebrated in this way, while you clap along, makes you complicit.

Biden shakes hands with valedictorian DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher at Morehouse College commencement May 19, 2024


Biden shakes hands with valedictorian DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher at Morehouse College graduation May 19, 2024    AP Photo/Alex Brandon

And if that were somehow not enough—and what Biden has done to the Palestinians is in fact way more than enough to justify a massive show of opposition and disgust—Biden was one of the main instigators of the system of mass incarceration targeting Black people in the U.S. In the 1980s and ’90s, he worked to overhaul the crime laws, arguing that America should “lock the S.O.B.s up,” which led to the extreme rise in mass incarceration, with still over 2 million people in prison today, half of them Black and Latino.

This display of servility from Morehouse to the mass murderer and mass incarcerator Biden says to the world that “well, yes, the oppressed Black masses in America still support Biden, even if he couldn’t go anywhere else to spit forth his hypocrisy on graduation.” In other words, going along with this shit did harm, and it served the agenda of the imperialists. 

Months ago, Morehouse announced they’d be giving Biden an honorary degree. This was finalized with a divided vote by the faculty—a vote which was shamefully decided in favor of giving Biden the degree. Some students and faculty made their differences known ahead of time. A Morehouse junior said: “This is the home of Martin Luther King [MLK graduated from Morehouse in 1948]. We’re inviting a war criminal to come to speak.” A professor said: “It is a shame to give an honorary degree to someone who is supporting financially, publicly genocide in Gaza.”

The president of Morehouse threatened to shut down graduation “on the spot” if there were “disruptive” protests. But what was needed was “disruptive” protests—with the message going out loud and clear that Biden couldn’t speak anywhere without the truth being told about his utter criminality.

Some Protest, but an Opportunity Squandered

When Biden was being given his honorary degree, some students walked out and during his speech, some students and faculty held up Palestinian flags and turned their backs to him. One professor stood with her back to Biden with her fist raised for the duration of his speech. This was important—and these people should be upheld and defended. However, this was FAR FROM COMMENSURATE with what was needed. 

At Morehouse College commencement, faculty member turns her back and raises her fist in protest during Biden's speech


At the Morehouse College commencement, a faculty member turns her back and raises her fist in protest during Biden's speech.    Photo: via X @elisepurr

At Morehouse College commencement students turn their backs to Biden.


At Morehouse College commencement students turn their backs to Biden, May 19, 2024.    Photo: CNN IG

This was an opportunity to expose and reject—before the eyes of the world—the criminality and hypocrisy of allowing Genocide Joe Biden to speak and to front as some kind of hero to Black people, or as someone who cares about the Palestinian people.

The valedictorian, DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher, wore a Palestinian flag and said in his speech that “It is my stance as a Morehouse man, nay, as a human being, to call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, in the Gaza Strip.” This was met with applause—including from Biden! And afterwards, Fletcher shook Biden’s hand. While it matters that he had the courage to say something, he undercut any basic principle by allowing himself to be used this way. He called for an end to the killing and then shook hands with the principal donor, backer and supporter of the murderer!

The New York Times quoted one of the parents who was discouraging their son from protesting, “He [speaking about her son] does have compassion for the children that have been lost in this, but this day is truly about him enjoying the moments that he has studied so hard for.”

This stands in stark and shameful contrast to what was done at many commencements elsewhere, where people made plain their opposition to this horror. It reflects a mentality of compromising and bootlicking to the powers that be to advance yourself.

There are no universities in Gaza. The class of 2024 did not get to graduate in Gaza—with many students dead, under the rubble or orphaned from American-made bombs dropped by Israel. 

There is no neutral in the face of this, and no one should stand aside.

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