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U.S. President Joe Biden delivered the commencement speech for the graduating class of Howard University (HBCU) on Saturday and received an honorary doctorate.

“To the distinguished faculty and staff, thank you for having me. And to the parents and families, and the class of 2023, congratulations,” Biden said.

“You are here through the heartache, through blood, sweat and tears and everything that’s come before and everything yet to come. You are here at a new moment of possibility,” Biden added.

President Biden delivers the commencement address to Howard University’s 2024 graduating class. Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, on Saturday, May 13, 2023. (Photo by Chris Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

Speaking to one of the most distinguished HBCUs in the nation, the 46th president spoke on the importance of Mother’s Day, Trump’s looming Republican presidential campaign, and the need to brace for what comes next.

The momentous occasion, having a sitting president choose to speak at a Historically Black College or University, comes as Biden’s approval rating among Black voters takes a sharp downward turn.

“To stand up against books being banned and Black history being erased. I’m serious, think about it. To stand up for the best in us,” Biden said.

Biden’s Black approval rating dropped 30 points as he speaks at Howard University

When Biden first took office he enjoyed a 90% approval rating among Black Americans. Yet in recent weeks, a poll from Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows his Black approval rating sank to 58%.

It is not uncommon for a president’s approval ratings to decrease over time, particularly as they approach the end of their term. Many factors could contribute to this, including economic conditions, domestic and foreign policy and more.

Choosing to speak to the graduating class at Howard University represented both his symbolic support for the Black Community in general and an attempt to gain support from a new generation of Black voters in particular, voters who don’t all align with their parents.

The legacy of Biden’s 1994 crime bill, and the toll it has reaped on incarceration rates for Black Americans, looms large in the minds of young voters.

Some Black college students see him as the lesser of two evils. Biden’s unfulfilled promise to deliver on student debt relief also weighs heavy on their minds.

“For people to vote, and to be eager to vote, you have to actually want to vote for the person,” Ace Conyers, a 22-year-old at South Carolina State, told the Associated Press.

Ultimately, Biden’s decision to run for a second term despite the lukewarm support from Democrats in general signifies his desire to once again prove he can beat Trump in a one-on-one presidential matchup.

He condemned white supremacy, calling it the single largest threat to Americans.

“Today, I come to Howard to continue the work to redeem the soul of this nation because it’s here where I see the future,” Biden said.

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Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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