President Biden Acknowledges Gaza Protesters During Morehouse College Commencement Address

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden acknowledged the voices of Gaza war protesters during his commencement address at Morehouse College, where a small group of graduates silently demonstrated by turning their backs, holding Palestinian flags, and wearing keffiyeh scarves.

Morehouse College, a historically Black university in Atlanta, Georgia, is the alma mater of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. According to NDTV

“I support peaceful, non-violent protest. Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them,” Biden stated, dressed in the maroon and black gown of the all-male institution.

This event marked Biden’s most direct engagement with student protests over Gaza, which have swept across US campuses, presenting political challenges for him as he prepares for a potential rematch with Donald Trump in the upcoming election.

Addressing the complex issue of Gaza, Biden remarked, “This is one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world. There’s nothing easy about it. I know it angers and frustrates many of you, including my family, but most of all, I know it breaks your heart. It breaks mine as well.”

The president refrained from elaborating, but reports indicate that First Lady Jill Biden had urged him in April to halt the increasing civilian toll in Gaza. Despite calls from some students to cancel Biden’s speech, the ceremony proceeded without disruption.

Biden highlighted the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza and affirmed his efforts toward an “immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting, bring the hostages home.” He emphasized his pursuit of a “lasting, durable peace” in the Middle East, envisioning an independent Palestinian state as the “only solution.”

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was in Saudi Arabia and Israel over the weekend, striving to secure a ceasefire and a normalization deal between the two nations.

During the event, Biden applauded the college’s valedictorian, DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher, who also advocated for an immediate ceasefire in his speech. Morehouse College president David Thomas commended Biden for addressing pressing global issues, acknowledging that “you’ve been listening.”

Biden’s speech at Morehouse, part of his efforts to connect with Black voters amid waning support, did not mention Donald Trump directly but focused on themes of democracy and racism. “This is what we’re up against—extremist forces aligned against the meaning and message of Morehouse,” he said.

Later on Sunday, Biden visited a café in Detroit, Michigan, owned by former NBA players Joe and Jordan Crawford. There, he contrasted his agenda with his opponent’s, asserting, “The guy we’re running against wants to back up all the progress we made.”

A recent New York Times/Siena poll indicated that Biden is trailing Trump in several key battleground states and losing support among African Americans, with Trump gaining over 20 percent of Black voter support, the highest for a Republican since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.