tv Spike Lee Delivers Commencement Address at John Hopkins University CSPAN May 21, 2016 11:29pm-12:01am EDT
unfairly, in small things and large. to listen to that difficult is having a time. do not hide your face and your under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness. treat others the way you would treated, if you stood in their shoes. small lessons become the unplanned syllabus for becoming good citizen. live them --ts to and your efforts to live them will help form the fabric of a and a free and prosperous nation where inherent equality and liberty are invilable.
you are men and women of thatdale college, a school has stood fast on its principles and its traditions at great and great cost. you are men and women of steeped in the best steeped in the best principles of our great nation. if you don't lead by example, who will? i have every faith that you will be the beacon of light for others to follow. that city on a hill that cannot be hidden. my god bless each of you now and throughout your lives and may god bless america. thank you. [applause]
>> our commencement special continues looking at 2016 commencement speakers. we're joined by the president of hillsdale college in hillsdale, michigan. he's been president since 2000. this year the commencement speaker at the hillsdale graduation was supreme court justice clarence thomas. dr. arm, justice thomas is someone who doesn't speak publicly that often. doesn't speak in the court that often. what was your consideration in terms of having him speak there? what was your motivation for that? >> well, i've been privileged to know him very much and admire him and i know he doesn't like to do things like that and have been reluctant to ask him but he was often at the top of the list of our senior class. this year they talked me into it and said maybe you're hurting his feelings by not asking him. i did write the letter and he
said yes. >> was that the first time you had requested him to speak before the school whether in a graduation setting or otherwise? >> he had been here a few times. he spoke at my inauguration in 2000. he taught here for a week one time. i think he was here one other occasion. first time i asked him for commencement. and it's too bad because now it will be a very long time before i can ask him again. >> what do you think the graduates learned most from justice thomas? what do you think they got out of his speech? >> it was a beautiful commencement speech. in my opinion the theme is how to live a good life. the obvious thing to call commencement is termination. they're leaving the college. but commencement is not about that. it's about how they live their lives. justice thomas's advice to them was very beautiful and very well rendered. it was how to be a good and successful and happy person by
living the right kind of life. >> we last saw justice thomas speak at the funeral services for his friend and fellow supreme court justice antonin scalia a few months back. did justice thomas talk about that at all either before the graduates or in your conversation with him? >> both. early in his commencement remarks he paid an extensive tribute to justice scalia. and over the weekend he was here from friday night until sunday morning, he had quite a lot to say in conversation about him. he admired him very much. they were very close. and he misses him terribly. >> the headline in the huffington post -- a quick quote from that speech said justice thomas, clarence thomas tells grads, "do not hide your faith and your beliefs." tell us how that fits into your college admission. >> well, our college was started in 1844 by evangelical
christians and it is very interested in freedom, very interested in faith. you had to know greek and latin o enter the college back then. our college had a big part in the civil war, helped invent the republican party. a spir chul predecessor of clarence thomas spoke on our campus twice. we've always valued those things and think that they form an integrity that makes for a good and excellent human life. >> back to the selection of justice -- of the commencement speaker in general, you pretty much hit the a list with justice thomas. how do you top that for the class of 2017? >> well, it was a glorious day. the best i've seen and i've been here a long time. feel library after the conquest of carthage. he knelt down and wept. what is there left to do?
>> dr. larry arnn president of hillsdale college in hillsdale, michigan thanks for being with us. >> a pleasure. >> film maker and activist spike lee was the commencement speaker at john hopkins university in baltimore. he urged graduates to be catalyst ts for change for the so-called 99%. he also criticized presidential candidate donald trump and paid tribute to the late singer prince with a reading of his song baltimore that was released last year after the city's riots. his is about 10 minutes. [applause] >> hello. that's weak. hello. >> hello. >> thank you. greetings to the john hopkins
university. i give thanks to president daniels, the board of trustees, the faculty, administration, he graduating class of 2016. and again we must acknowledge the people that made this all possible, the parents. [applause] as the great philosopher and oet mr. p.r. nelson once said, dearly beloved, we gather here today to get to this thing called life. but on this occasion, the graduation of a class in the john f our lord 2016, hopkins university, i've been blessed to do what i want and what i love. i love what i do. and what i do is i make films. i'm a film maker, a story
teller. 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 eeps your eyes shut to the inequalities and injustices in this often evil, crazy, and insane world we live in. let's move our minds back to the front to a conscious state and wake up. let's leave our lofty ivory towers and institutions and get down to the people. as sisters and brothers say on
the block, get woke. let's be alert, open minded, get woke. let's wake up. like the knuckle rings worn by the late ray rahim, let's truly know the difference between love and hate. as malcolm x said, we've been took. hood winked. led astray. run amok. nd bam booze ld. people, we're at a very crucial moment in history of these 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 don't know about you but i'm worried. i worry for the graduating
class here at john hopkins university. they told me about the "s." i got educated. they didn't know. in addition to the graduating classes all over god's planet, i wish to be graduating into a world of peace, light, and love. that's not the case. we all 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, this new generation, to make it fairer, a just world. it is up to the graduating class of 2016 to make a better 99% being
hornswoggled, scorned, ncarcerated, profiled, starved , used goes abused, even shot down on our streets. graduates, please leave here on the straight and narrow. and, please, don't go the way of skull dugary. i got that word from mike tyson. want to say the word. skullduggery. united states of america is a very diverse nation. this is one of the many things that makes us great despite the legacy of the genocide of the 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 folk will be
wholly out numbered by nonwhites. this is happening, people. here and now. i feel it's time to start embracing it. not fight it. no matter how one might wish it would be otherwise, we are not making america great again by going back to eisenhower, jim crow, fire houses, german shepherds, eisenhower, and leave it to beaver. [applause] not happening. now is the time to seize the day, take advantage of the unique moment in history, and build bridges amongst us, talking about gender, race, religion, and nations. not walls. let us build bridges of love ersus walls of hate. side bar number one.
standing here, i'm amongst some of the greatest minds in the world here at john hopkins university. people a lot smarter than me. so i ask, can somebody please educate me, me, somebody from the public school education, and the public of brooklyn, new york, can somebody please explain to me how you can tell mexico to build a 25-foot wall on the border on top of that and have the audacity to tell them, mexico, you foot the bill, too. w.t.f. [applause] ide bar dos.
at a time my lovely wife who is here and i gave a fundraiser for president barack hussein obama during his first term in office. i don't know about you. i'm going to miss him. he will be on the right side of history. of this o, i heard device. it looks like a brief case. when triggered, when activated it can trigger a nuclear ttack. it's always close to the president. it was in our home. -- it wasn't in our home but in the vehicle parked outside. i stand before you testifying it is not a myth. this football is for real. i was scared just to catch a glimpse of it.
fast forward today. now i have recurring nightmares . i toss and turn because of 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 going to go. boom. more boom. boom, boom. dear god. we got to get woke. got to wake up. to bring it to a close here i'd like to go back once again to y friend, the philosopher, the poet, and the great humanitarian mr. p.r. nelson. you might know him also as the artist prince. can we get some love to prince,
please? [applause] , great s a true american. entitled e a song "baltimore." don't worry. i'm not going to sing it. ut here it is. baltimore, nobody got nobody's way. i guess you say it was a good day. at least a little bit better .han the day in baltimore does anybody hear us pray? or mike brown or freddie gray? peace is more than absence of war.
absence of war. are we going to see another bloody day? we're tired of the crying and people are dying. let us all take the guns away. absence of war. you or me may finally 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 there ain't no justice and ain't 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 there ain't no justice there ain't no peace. baltimore. are we going to see another bloody day? we're tired of crying and people are dying. let's take all the guns away. there ain't no justice, there
ain't gonna be no peace. baltimore, there ain't no justice there can be no peace. thank you. go with god. black lives matter. [applause] >> vice president joe biden and former house speaker john boehner jointly received the university of notre dame's medal at the school's 2016 commencement ceremony. according to notre dame's website they were honored in recognition for their leadership, civility, and dedication to our nation. it is the latin word for rejoice.
his is 25 minutes. >> father jenkins, vice president biden, graduates, it is truly anne honor and a privilege for me to be here with all of you today. just a regular guy who use oday have a big job. it's been six months since i left public service and it's given me a little time to reflect and something that occurred to me a few months ago about the difficult task of what we call governing. governing in my view is the art of -- politicians these days are constantly pushed to promise the impossible. this being a presidential election year you've been hearing a lot of impossible promises. govening isn't about promising
he impossible. governing in its process is the art of the possible. it requires us to look for common ground where it can be found without compromising our principles. as speaker i always drew a distinction between compromise and common ground because i truly do believe they're different things. 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 had many disagreements on many different issues. [laughter] i can imagine what he is doing back here. but, you know, i learned the art of being able to disagree without being disgreeble growing up in my dad's bar. even as we disagreed, we both
always underthe need to keep looking for things that we could agree on. because while i'm a republican and joe is a democrat, the fact is, at first we're both americans. 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 for joe. [applaud] i was thinking about what i was going to say this morning and decided that, you know, the speech that i have is not really the speech i'm going to give. when i was sitting in these seats out here like you over 40 years ago i could never have imagined that i would have spent some 34 years in public service. never could have imagined what path in life i would take. and so i began to think about what is really important. i know a lot of you are
thinking about what am i going to do? what am i going to do? let me tell you something. you can think about that tomorrow. you can think about it next week. frankly, you can think about it next year. but what you can't think about right here right now is who do you want to be? you know, i played high school in football for a guy named jerry faust who came up here and didn't win as many games ased' like to have won as your head coach, but i learned a lot of things from jerry faust. yes i learned a lot of things about playing football but i said more hail marys in high school than i'll say the rest of my life and i say some every day. but when i look back on my life, jerry faust, you know, i'm a high school guy. taught us house to be men. taught us how to be leaders. taught us what was required of us. another good friend, lou holtz. he won a lot of good games here including the national
championship. you've never met a man that was more optimistic, more hard charging, but always having a smail on his face. there was another person who impacted my life. bo francis. i tried for 20 years to get a pope to come and address a joint session of congress. thank goodness pope francis decided to come. now, after he decided to come i found out from my oldest daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild and my grandchild was going to be born right before the pope came to the u.s. and so the cardinal and others were working the vatican over to try to get the pope to baptize my grandson. [laughter] well, you have to remember the vatican has a 2,000-year head start on bureaucracy over the u.s. [laughter] make a long story short they told us the holy father would
be happy to bless your grandchild but really doesn't want to do a baptism outside of the church. so we get to the appointed day. my grandson was born on august 11. and the pope came on september 24. my chief of staff and i another catholic guy greeted the pope, lights, cameras. we got rid of all that and the pope and i went to sit down and i realized there were seven cardinals, the pope, my chief of staff, and i, i looked at him and said, why are we here? we had a very nice meeting. as it was breaking up, the pope was standing up. i was standing up. my family was in the other room and began to come in. the pope turned to his assistant and said give me a glass of water. really? so i watched the assistant go get a glass of water. he brought it back to the pope. the pope had it in his right hand and he put it in his left hand and i was waiting for him to bless it. but he just took a drink. [laughter
[the greatest head fake in history. but as our morning was ending and after his address, the pope was getting ready to depart the capitol and we were standing in the first floor of the capitol and i realized that it was just the pope and me. and the pope took his left arm and grabbed my left arm and pulled me near him and started to say some of the nicest things anybody has ever said to me. you can imagine by now i get a few tears in my eyes. then the pope took his right arm and put his arm around me and gave me this big bear hug and he looked at me and he said, mr. speaker, please pray for me. i said, your holy father, 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 or jerry faust or lou holtz. it was who they were as people that helped me decide who i was going to be and what i was going to be throughout my life. and through the power of the holy spirit, i was fortunate to link wake up the next day and decide, i'm out of here. and if you want to know more about the holy spirit just google boehner, holy spirit, and you'll get the rest of the story. i'll finish on this note. laetor 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 in your future. [applause]
> oh, my gosh. thank you, speaker boehner. ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause] >> let's get something straight right off the bat. i don't like john boehner. [laughter] love him. notre dame, s, thank you. thank you for this honor. the laetor medal. i can say without fear of contradiction it is the most meaningful award i've ever received in my life. and my mother, katherine eugenia finnegan, i wish she
were here but she is looking down to see me receive this. i must say, father jenkins, my grandfather ambrose finnegan who played for santa clara the turn of the century, was a newspaper man in scranton, always resented notre dame. [laughter] because santa clara, well they referred to l team as the notre dame of the west. he said, hell, they're the santa clara of the midwest. grand pop, forgive me. i played football at the university of delaware, in high school, and i finally made it to the 50 yard line at notre dame stadium. this is worth the trip, man. [laughter] you all think i'm kidding. i'm not.
[laughter] father, you said that politics is 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 sport. full of invective and arguments. i've 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've not seen it like this in my career. you quote the holy father when you said he addressed the joint session of congress and said our responsibility was to the tireless pursuit of the common good, the chief aim of politics. father, by the privilege of
spending time as john did with the holy father, he not only consoled me and my family when i lost my bo, but when i met him representing the united states at his inauguration, and i walked up with other heads of state to be formally introduced o him in the basilica, the msg -- the monsignor i had been spending time with earlier, i hope i wasn't the reason he resigned, but turned and introduced me to the holy father. 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's the reason why he is the most respected man in the world as i speak not just among catholics, but muslims, hindus, other christians, the jewish community. that is not hyperbole. he literally is the most respected man in the world. you are always welcome here. and i believed the message he was urging, that congress was to extend to everyone, we, who hold high office, to extend our hand and say to americans, you are always welcome here.