Archive for May, 2011

The full transcript of President Barack Obama’s commencement speech for the 2011 graduation class of Booker T. Washington High School:

Hello, Memphis! And congratulations to the Class of 2011! You know, being President is a great job. I get a cool plane. I have a theme song. But what I enjoy most is having a chance to come to a school like Booker T. Washington High School and share this day with its graduates.

I am so proud of each and every one of you. You made it – and not just through high school. You made it past Principal Kiner. I can tell she is not messing around. I’ve only been in Memphis a couple of hours, but I’m pretty sure I’d do whatever she told me to do.

I had the chance to meet her and her daughter, Amber a little while ago. Amber actually goes to another high school. Turns out, she was worried that the boys would be afraid to talk to her with her mom lurking in the hallways. This is why my next job will be principal at Sasha and Malia’s high school. And then president of their college.

Let me also say to Alexis and Vashti – I heard that you were a little nervous about speaking today, but now I’m nervous about following you. You both did a terrific job. And we’ve had some great performances by Shalonda, Tecia, Paula, and the jazz band.

Last but not least, I want to recognize all the people who helped you reach this milestone: the parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors who have loved you and stood behind you every step of the way. And I want to acknowledge the devoted teachers and administrators of Booker T. Washington who believed in you, who kept the heat on you, and who have never treated teaching as a job but as a calling.

Every commencement is a day of celebration. But this one is especially hopeful. That’s because some people say that schools like BTW just aren’t supposed to succeed in America. You’ll hear them say, “The streets are too rough in those neighborhoods.” Or “The schools are too broken.” Or “Those kids can’t learn.”
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