US Race Relations Better, Still Need Work, Obama Tells Howard University Graduates

OB11{VOA NEWS} – President Barack Obama delivered a rousing commencement speech Saturday at historically black Howard University, telling graduates that race relations have improved over the last three decades but that more work needs to be done.

“America is by almost every measure better than it was when I graduated from college,” Obama told the Class of 2016, in looking back to 1983. The nation’s first African-American president, however, said racism and inequality persist as he noted disparities in unemployment, pay and the criminal justice system.

He also told the graduates in Washington that if they want to see change, they cannot “sleepwalk through life” but must actively participate in the democratic system.

“In 2012, nearly two out of three Americans turned out [to vote]. And then in 2014, only two in five turned out to vote. You don’t think that made a difference in terms of the Congress I’ve got to deal with?” he asked.

The president told young people they had no excuses not to vote.

“You don’t have to risk your life to cast a ballot; other people already did that for you,” he said as he urged the 2,300 graduates to vote not just for president, but in every election.

Societal improvements

The president said today’s college graduates are better positioned than at any other time to address outstanding problems.

“Since the year I graduated, the poverty rate is down. … American cities have undergone a renaissance. There are more women in the workforce. They are earning more money.  The dropout rate by-African Americans was cut by almost 60 percent,” Obama said.

The president was also awarded an honorary doctor of science degree during the commencement ceremony. READ MORE

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About Cholo Brooks 14317 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.