tv Spike Lee Delivers Commencement Address at John Hopkins University CSPAN May 21, 2016 8:29pm-9:01pm EDT
like to be treated. if you stood in their shoes. come small lessons he unplanned syllabus for becoming a good citizen. themur efforts to live will help to form the fabric of the civil society in a free and prosperous nation where inherent equality and liberty are invaluable. you are men and women of hillsdale college. a school that has stood fast on its principles and its traditions at great sacrifice and great cost. you are men and women of hillsdale. steeped in the best traditions and principles of our great nation. if you don't lead by example, who will? will bevery faith you
the beacon of light for others to follow. that city on a hill that cannot be hidden. may god bless each of you now and throughout your lives, and may god bless america. thank you. [applause] announcer: our commencement special continues, looking at 20 16th commencement speakers. we are joined by the president of hillsdale college in michigan, president since 2000. the speaker at the graduation was supreme court justice clarence thomas. justice thomas does not speak that often in the court.
what was your chief consideration in terms of having him speak there? what was your motivation? >> i know he doesn't actually like to do things like that. i have been reluctant to ask him. but he is often top of the list of our senior class. so this year, they talked them into that. they said, maybe you're hurting his feelings by not asking. i accused him, but i did write a letter. >> was in the first time you had requested him to speak before the school, whether in a graduation setting or otherwise? larry: he spoke at my inauguration in 2000. he taught here for a week one time, here for another occasion. this was the first time i asked him for commencement. it will be a very long time before i can ask him again. >> what you think the graduates
learn most from justice thomas? what did they get out of his speech? larry: it was a beautiful commencement speech, in my opinion, commencement speeches, their theme, is how to live a good life. the obvious thing to call to it, termination, leaving the college. but commencement is not about that. it is about how they live their lives. justice thomas's advice, very beautiful and well rendered, how to be a good, successful, and happy person my living the right kind of life. >> we last saw justice thomas speak at the funeral services for justice antonin scalia. did he talk about that at all, either before the graduates or with your conversation with him? larry: both. early in his remarks, he paid extensive tribute to justice sc
alia. he was year from friday to sunday, and quite a lot in conversation, admired him, they were very close. he misses him, terribly. >> the headline in the huffington post, a quick note, justice thomas tells graduates "do not hide your faith and your beliefs." tell us about how that fits in. larry: our college was founded by abolitionist christians, very interested by constitutional forms, faith. you have to know greek and latin to enter the college, back then. our college had a big part in the civil war, helped to invent the republican party. who i regardglas, as the spiritual predecessor of clarence thomas, spoke on the campus twice. valued those
things, faith and integrity makes for a good life. >> back to the selection of justice thomas and the selection of the speaker in general, you pretty much hit the a-list. how you top that for the class of 2017? larry: it was a glorious day. the best i have seen, and i have been here long time. the conquestfter knelt down, e-mai he and wept. >> thanks for being with us. larry: a pleasure. announcer: filmmaker and thevist spike lee was commencement speaker at johns hopkins in baltimore. he urged graduates to be catalysts for change for the 99%. he also criticized presidential
candidate donald trump. and pay tribute to the late singer prince, with his song "baltimore," that was released last year. this is about 10 minutes. [applause] mr. lee: hello. >> hello. mr. lee: that's weak. hello! >> hello! mr. lee: thank you. greetings to the johns hopkins university. i give thanks to president daniels, the board of trustees, faculty, administration, especially the graduating class of 2016. [applause] and again, we must acknowledge the people that made this all possible, the parents. [applause] as the great philosopher and
poet mr. p.r. nelson once said, "dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get to this thing called life." [applause] but on this occasion, the graduation class in the year of our lord 2016, johns hopkins university, i've been blessed to do what i want, what i love. i love what i do, and what i do is i make films. i'm a filmmaker and storyteller. and there are two words that are almost in all of my 23 feature films, to date. these two words are wake up. wake up from the sleep, wake up from being comatose, wake up from the slumber that keeps your eyes shut to all inequalities
and injustices. to this, often more than not evil and insane and crazy world we live in, let's move our unconscious minds from the back to the front, to a conscious state, and wake up. let's leave our lofty ivory towers of institutions, and get down to the people. as the sisters and brothers say on the block, get woke. let's be alert and open-minded, get woke. let's wake up. like the knuckle rings worn by the late radio raheem, let's truly know the difference between love and hate. as malcolm x said, "we've been tooked, hoodwinked, led astray,
run amok, and bamboozled." people, we had a very crucial moment in the history of the united states of america. and the way i'm looking at it today, to tell you the truth, things are looking dicey. it can go either way. i do not know about you, but i'm worried. i am worried. to the graduating class here at johns hopkins university -- they told me about the s, didn't know, but i got educated -- in addition to the graduating classes all over this, god's planet, i wish you'd be graduating into a world of peace, light, and love. but that's not the case. we don't live in a fairy tale, but i guess the 1% does.
after you leave here today, it's going to be real life, and real life is no joke. it's real out here for the other 99%, for sure. now, it's up to you, the new generation, to make it a fairer and just world. it's up to the graduation classes of 2016 to make a better world for the 99%, who are daily being hornswoggled, hoodwinked, dooped and scorned, double-crossed, incarcerated, profiled, starved, miseducated, used and abused, and even shot down on our streets. graduates, please, leave here on the straight and narrow. and, please, don't go the way of straight up skullduggery.
i got that word from mike tyson, my favorite word, skullduggery. the united states of america is a very diverse nation. this is one of the things that makes it great, despite the legacy of the genocide of his native people, and slavery. the united states census bureau, and not spike lee, says five years from now, white children will be a minority. and by 2049, white folks will be wholly outnumbered by non-whites. this is happening people, here and now. i feel it's time to start embracing, not fight it. no matter how one might wish it to be otherwise, we are not making america great again by going back to eisenhower, jim crow, firehouses, german harriet," "ozzie and
and "leave it to beaver." [applause] not having it. now's the time to seize the day, to take advantage of this unique moment in history, and build bridges amongst us. we're talking about gender, race, religion, and nations, not walls. let us build bridges of love, versus walls of hate. alright? [applause] sidebar number one. standing here, i'm amongst some of the greatest minds in the world, here at johns hopkins university. people who are a lot smarter than me. so, i ask, can somebody please educate me? me, somebody from the public school education in the republic of brooklyn, new york.
can somebody please explain to me how you can tell mexico to build a 25-foot wall on the borders. and on top of that, have the audacity to tell them, mexico, you foot the bill, too. wtf? [applause] sidebar dos. [laughter] tanya, my lovely wife who's here, and i gave a fundraiser at our home for president barack hussein obama, during his first term in office. i don't know about you, but i'm gonna miss him. and he will be on the right side of history. [applause] but anywho, i heard of this football, this device, looks like a briefcase.
then, when triggered, when activated, can trigger a nuclear attack. i thought it was a myth. it's always close to the president. it wasn't in our home, but in the vehicle, parked outside. and i stand before you to testify, it's not a myth. this football is for real. and i was scared, just catching a glimpse of it. fast-forward to today, now, i have recurring nightmares. i toss and turn because my nightmare -- donald trump has become the 45th president of the united states of america, and he has the nuclear code to the football. he gets mad at somebody, and we're all gonna go boom. two more booms -- boom, boom!
dear god, save us. but we gotta get woke, gotta wake up. to bring it to a close here, i like to go back once again to my friend, the philosopher, the poet, and the great humanitarian, mr. p.r. nelson. you might know him also as the artist, prince. can we give some love to prince, please? [applause] prince is a true, great american. and he wrote a song, entitled "baltimore." don't worry, i'm not gonna sing it, but here it is.
"baltimore, nobody got in nobody's way. i guess you say it was a good day. at least a little bit better than a day in baltimore. does anybody hear us pray for mike brown or freddie gray? peace is more than an absence of war, absence of war. are we going to see another bloody day? we're tired of the cryin' and dyin.e are let's take all the guns away. absence of war, you and me, may finally we say, enough is enough. it's time for love. it's time to hear, it's time to hear the guitar play, guitar
play. baltimore, ever more. and if there ain't no justice, there aint' no peace. if there ain't no justice, there ain't no peace. if there ain't no justice, there ain't no peace. and if there ain't no justice, their ain't no peace. baltimore, are we gonna see another bloody day? we're tired of cryin' and people are dyin'. let's take all the guns away. there ain't no justice. there ain't gonna be no peace. baltimore, if there ain't no justice, there ain't gonna be no peace. thank you, go with god. black lives matter. [applause]
announcer: vice president joe biden and former house speaker joe biden received the notre dame metal at the 2016 commencement ceremony. according to the website, they were honored for civility and dedication to our nation. it is the latin word for rejoice. this is 25 minutes. [applause] truly anoehner: it is honor and privilege for me to be here with you all today. just a regular guy, who used to have a big job. [laughter]
you know, it has been six months since i left public service. it has given me time to reflect. something occurred to me a few months ago, about the difficult task of what we call governing. governing, in my view, is the art of impossible. politicians these days are constantly being pushed to be impossible. and this being a presidential election year, you have been hearing a lot of impossible promises. but governing is not about promising the impossible. art of thes the possible. governing requires us to look for common ground where it can be found, without compromising our principles. ad a speaker, i drew distinction, because i truly believe they are different things. and the fact of the matter is,
you can find common ground with the other side, without compromising your core beliefs. ladies and gentlemen, vice president joe biden is one of those people. joe and i have had many disagreements on many different issues. [applause] i can imagine what he is doing back here. art you know, i learned the of disagreeing without being disagreeable from my father growing up. we always figured the need to keep are looking for things we could agree on. while i'm republican and joe is a democrat, we are americans first. so, mr. vice president, it is an honor to share the stage with you today. thinking about what i was going to say this morning -- [applause]
applaud for joe, come on. [applause] i was thinking about what i was going to say this morning and decided the speech i have is not really the speech i want to give. when i was sitting in the seats out here, like you over 40 years ago, i could never imagine that i would have spent some 34 years in public service. never could have imagined that in life i would take. i began to think about what is really important. i know a lot of you are think about what am i going to do? let me tell you something, you can think about that tomorrow, next week, frankly, you can think about it next year. what you can think about right here, right now, is who do you want to be? you know, i played football in high school for a guy named jerry, who came up here and did not win as many games as he
would like to as your head coach. but i learned a lot of things from gerry faust. mary's in more hail high school that i did my life. when i look back on my life, gerry faust, i am a high school guy, taught us how to be men, leaders, what is required of us. another good friend, lou holtz. he won a lot of games here, including a national championship. you never met a man who was more optimistic, more hardcharging, but always having a smile on his face. it was another person that impacted my life. pope francis. i have tried for 20 years to get a pope to come address a joint session of congress. i never kept trying.
he decided to come. i found out my daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild. and he was going to be born right before the pope's visit. and working to get the cardinal to try an and baptize my grandson. vows, andn has two you are a head start over the u.s. to make a long story short, they told us the holy father would be happy to bless your child, but did not want to do a baptism outside the church. it is to be the day. i grandson was born on august 11, the pope came on august 24. lights and cameras, we got rid of all that. sitting down, i realize there were several cardinals, the pope , my chief of staff, and i said,
why are we here? the meeting was breaking up. i was standing up to my family in an adjoining room. and the pope turned to his assistant, said give me a glass of water. really? [laughter] so, i watched the assistant get a glass of water. you brought it back to the poe , pe, i was waiting for him to bless it. but he just took a drink. [laughter] the greatest head fake in history. [laughter] but after his address, the pope was getting ready to depart the capital. and we were standing in the first floor of the capital, and i realized it was just the pope and me. and he took his left arm, saided me, told me near,
the nicest things anybody is said to me. you can imagine, if you don't know, i get a few tears in my eyes. and as he took his right arm, put it around me, gave me a big bear hug, he looked at me and said, mr. speaker, please pray for me. i said, who am i to pray for you? but i do, and i did. but what did i learn from these people? i learned it wasn't the job they had, whether it was the pope, gerry faust, or lou holtz. they helped me decide who and what i was going to be, throughout my life. and through the power of the was spirit, i fortunate enough to wake up the next day and decide, i am out of here. [laughter]
[applause] and if you want to know about the holy spirit, just google john boehner, holy spirit. you will get it. i will finish on this note. the word means rejoice. trust me, every day since last october, i have been rejoicing. [laughter] god bless you. god bless this great institution. and good luck to you on your future. [applause] >> thank you, speaker er boehner. ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause] president joe biden: let's
get one thing straight. i do not like john boehner. [laughter] i love them. notre dame, thank you. thank you for this honor. the medal. i can say without fear of contradiction that it is the most meaningful award i have ever received in my life. eugenemother, catherine finnigan, i wish you were here. but she is looking down to see me receive this. but i must say, father jenkins, my grandfather, ambrose finnigan, who played for santa clara at the turn of the century, a newspaper man from scranton, always presented notre dame. santa clara, that a football
team, referring to them as the notre dame of the west. he said, hell, we are the santa clara of the midwest. grandpa, forgive me. i played football at the university of delaware, high school. and i finally made it to the 50 yard line of the stadium. [laughter] it is worth the trip, man. you all think i'm kidding. i am not. [laughter] that policy isd a full contact sport. i agree. but father, to the detriment of the nation, in my view and i think john would agree with me, it has recently become a blood invective and arguments. i have been there a long time. john and i served together for
over 25 years. i've been elected to the senate seven times and vice president twice. i have not seen it like this in my career. father, when holy you said he addressed the joint session of congress and said our responsibility is the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, the chief aim of politics. privilege of the spending time, like john did, with the holy father, he not only consoled me and my family u, bute lost my beuaa but when i met him, and i walked up with other heads of state to be formally introduced to him in monsignor whothe
i had just met earlier, because i had met with pope benedict, i hope he was not the reason he resigned. [laughter] but before he could, the holy father put out his hand and said, mr. vice president, you are always welcome here. you are always welcome here. think about him. that is the message he has sent to the world. it is the reason why he is the most respected man in the world, as i speak here today. butjust among catholics, indus, other christians, the jewish committee. that is not hyperbole.
he literally is the most respected man in the world. you are always welcome here. the message he congress was to extend to everyone, we, who hold high office, to extend our hand and say to americans, you are always welcome here. whos raised by presidents were the embodiment of catholic social doctrine. and i was taught by the sisters of st. joseph in high school. everyone is always welcome in my home. i was taught by my mother that no one was better than me. but that everyone was my equal. i was taught y