again, I am sharing my annual graduation speech in hopes that it will
help African people in America understand the real meaning of these
rites of passage for thousands of our young people who will be
participating in commencement exercises affirming their graduation
from elementary, middle school, high school, and college in the next
life has just begun today brothers and sisters. This is probably one
of the most important days in your life as you make this transition,
this rite of passage in moving toward another stage in your
development as young Africans in America.
like to congratulate your teachers, parents, guardians, and extended
family members who are with you today and who have supported you in
reaching this critical stage of your life at this critical hour in
want to have a brief but serious talk with you today brothers and
sisters. It has been predicted that within the 21st
century, if current trends continue, 70% of African men in America
between the ages of 16 and 28 will be either in jail or addicted to
drugs and/or alcohol. Increasingly, this same trend is occurring with
African females in America. One of the purposes of our educational
pursuits is to turn this devastating trend around.
does all this mean today as you graduate from this educational
institution that professes to be dedicated to the academic and
cultural development of young people like you? As young Black people,
or Africans in America, about to enter a new stage in life, let me
define what being Black and African really means.
it is color― your African ancestry.
it is culture: practicing a lifestyle that recognizes the importance
of our African and African in American heritage and traditions. I am
speaking of an African culture that is geared to the values that will
facilitate the present and future development of our people.
it is consciousness. We should always be conscious of our strength,
beauty, and potential as African people. In this connection, we
should always interpret all situations from the standpoint of the
greatest good for the greatest number of Africans in the world. This
is called the African principle.
and finally, Black or being African means commitment. It means a
willingness to work tirelessly in the interests of African people and
all oppressed humanity.
it is today that I am challenging you to continue on the path of
becoming independent African people who are not dependent on others
outside of our communities for the things we can do for ourselves.
am challenging you as you make this rite of passage to prepare
yourselves to become committed to the struggle for the just and
common cause for the liberation and redemption of African people
dedication to the common cause goes beyond the resources of one
generation. It means we must always learn from previous generations.
We must always learn from the wisdom of our ancestors using this
knowledge as a way of seeking and struggling for a better way of life
for African people based on goals and objectives in own best
other words, we must stop killing each other over bruised egos, over
material items and drugs that other people manufacture and bring into
our communities. We
must stop the killing!
must seek to prepare the generations to come to develop the skills
and resources for making our ultimate freedom and liberation a
reality. As Malcolm X always said, “education is the passport
the late, renowned, African in American educator, psychologist, and
historian Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III writes in SBA: The Reawakening of the African Mind,
have not viewed our problems holistically. After years of living
under conditions of extreme oppression, we have settled for limited
definitions of our problem.”
Hilliard explains; “A classic example may be taken from the
period of the Civil Rights Movement. The evil and gross injustice of
slavery and segregation violated the civil rights of African people
and had to be addressed. However, the necessary task of fighting for
civil rights was insufficient to allow for the healing of a people.
Our healing requires a greater conceptual frame than that provided by
Hilliard continues with this insight: “First we must see
ourselves as an African people, or we will be unable to develop this
critical frame. Second, we must understand not only the role that
white supremacy has played in our subjugation, but also the role that
we ourselves have played by not practicing self determination in our
struggle to counter the MAAFA (this is a KiSwahili term that means
disaster or as Marimba Ani has conceptualized it to mean the African
holocaust of Eurasian enslavement / colonialism).”
parents, teachers, and students― as our esteemed ancestor Dr.
John Henrik Clarke repeatedly warned, “Powerful people never
teach powerless people how to take power from them. Education is one
of the most sensitive arenas in the life of a people. Its role is to
be honest and true and to tell people where they have been and what
they are.” Most importantly, Dr. Clarke points out that the
role of education and history is to “tell a people where they
still must go.”
is a great day for you who have make this step in your rite of
passage and transition. We congratulate you in the name of all of our
ancestors and send you forward to the next stage of your development
in the cycle of life.
the struggle continues and we will conquer without a doubt. Hotep