President Biden delivers commencement address at SC State University

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– South Carolina State University in Orangeburg welcomed President Joe Biden to give the fall commencement speech at graduation Friday morning.

The event was also a special day for the man who helped make bringing the president possible for his alma mater. South Carolina State holds a special place in Jim Clyburn’s heart. However, despite graduating over 60 years ago, he never got the chance to walk across the stage at a graduation ceremony. That changed Friday morning when he received his degree in person.

“My dad used to say to me all the time that the first sign of a good education is good manners,” said Rep. James E. Clyburn, House majority whip. “I want all the members of this class to show how well educated they are. Stand and say  thank you to your parents, your guardians or whoever foots the bill every month for you to be here.”

Congressman Clyburn motivated the students by telling them they might have to get out of their comfort zone to succeed.

“No matter how many times you attempt, keep trying until you get it right. Don’t give up,” said the Camden native.

Clyburn brought special guest President Joe Biden to give the commencement address.

“Few classes, every once in a few generations, enter at a point in American history where they actually have a chance to change the trajectory of the country,” Biden said in Friday’s address.

He says he sees the talent of HBCUs every day among his colleagues, including vice president Kamala Harris.

“Too many HBCU’s don’t have the laboratories or the capacity,” the president said. “They have the intelligence and intellectual capacity.”

Biden says he hopes to work for greater funding for HBCUs and more programs of study at these schools.

He added that students at South Carolina State have a good example to look up to in Congressman Clyburn.

“What makes Jim so effective as the highest ranking southern African-American ever in the House of Representatives is that Jim never forgets where he came from,” Biden said. “Don’t you ever forget where you came from.”

The president also listed other things he hopes to work on when in office from community policing and criminal justice to housing discrimination and protecting the right to vote.

He left the graduates with this final word of encouragement. 

“I have every confidence that no matter your career, you’re going to translate change, a greater opportunity, happiness and prosperity for you and everyone around you,” Biden concluded. “I’m counting on you. I really am. I’m not kicking off responsibility but I’m counting on you.”

 Friday’s ceremony was a historic event for the school. It was the first time a current president has spoken at its commencement ceremony in its 125 year history. 

Categories: Local News, Orangeburg