tv Hillary Clinton Urges Wellesley Students to Fight for Truth Attacks... CSPAN May 27, 2017 6:25am-7:01am EDT
>> former secretary of state and presidential candidate hillary clinton was the speaker at the graduation ceremony at wellesley college, her own alma mater 48 years ago. this is just over 30 minutes. [applause] ms. clinton: thank you. thank you so much. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: thank you. thank you very much for that warm welcome. i am so grateful to be here back at wellesley, especially for
president johnson's very first commencement. and to thank her, the trustees, families and friends, faculty, staff, and guests for understanding and perpetuating the importance of this college. what it stands for, what it has meant, and what it will do in the years ahead. and most importantly, it's wonderful to be here with another green class to say congratulations to the class of 2017. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: i have some of my
dear friends here from my class, a green class of 1969. and i assume, or at least you can tell me later, unlike us, you actually have a class cheer. [laughter] ms. clinton: 1-9-6-9 wellesley, yet another year with no class cheer. [laughter] ms. clinton: but it is such an honor to join with the college and all who have come to celebrate this day with you and to recognize the amazing futures that await you. you know, four years ago, maybe a little more or a little less
for some of you. i've got to get a lozenge. [laughter] ms. clinton: thank you. i told the trustees of was sitting with, after hearing tala's speech, i didn't think i could get through it. so we'll blame allergy instead of emotion. [laughter] ms. clinton: but you know -- [laughter] ms. clinton: you arrived at this campus. you arrived from all over. you joined students from 49 states and 58 countries. now maybe you felt like you belonged right away. i doubt it. [laughter] ms. clinton: but maybe some of you did and you never wavered. but maybe you changed your major
three times and your hairstyle twice that many. [laughter] ms. clinton: or maybe, after your first month of classes, you made a frantic collect call -- ask your parents what that was. [laughter] ms. clinton: back to illinois to tell your mother and father you weren't smart enough to be here. my father said, "okay, come home." [laughter] my mother said, "you have to stick it out." that's what happened to me. [applause] ms. clinton: but whatever your path, you dream big. you probably, in true wellesley fashion, planned your academic and extracurricular schedule
right down to the minute. so this day that you've been waiting for, and maybe dreading a little, is finally here. as president johnson said, i spoke at my commencement 48 years ago. i came back 25 years ago to speak at another commencement. i couldn't think of any place i'd rather be this year than right here. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: now, you may have heard that things didn't exactly go way i planned. [laughter] ms. clinton: but you know what? i am doing ok.
[cheers and applause] ms. clinton: i've gotten to spend time with my family, especially my amazing grandchildren. i was going to give the entire commencement speech about them but was talked out of it. [laughter] ms. clinton: long walks in the woods, organizing my closets, right? [laughter] ms. clinton: i won't lie. chardonnay helped a little, too. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: but here is what helps most of all. remembering who i am, where i come from, and what i believe. and that is what wellesley means to me. this college gave me so much. it launched me on a life of
service and provided friends that i still treasure. so wherever your life takes you, i hope that wellesley serves as that kind of touchstone for you. now if any of you are nervous about what you'll be walking into when you leave the campus, i know that feeling. i do remember my commencement. i'd been asked by my classmates to speak. i stayed up all night with my friends, the third floor of davis -- [applause] ms. clinton: writing and editing my speech. by the time we gathered in the academic quad, i was exhausted. my hair was a wreck. the mortarboard made it worse. but i was pretty oblivious to all of that, because what my friends had asked me to do was
to talk about our worries, and about our ability and responsibility to do something about them. we didn't trust government, authority figures, or really anyone over 30. [laughter] ms. clinton: in large part thanks to years of heavy casualties and dishonest official statements about vietnam and deep differences over civil rights and poverty here at home. we were asking urgent questions about whether women, people of color, religious minorities, immigrants, would ever be treated with dignity and respect. and by the way, we were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose
presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice -- [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: after firing the person running the investigation into him at the department of justice. [laughter and applause] ms. clinton: but here's what i want you to know. we got through that tumultuous time, and once again began to thrive as our society changed laws and opened the circle of opportunity and rights wider and wider for more americans. we revved up the engines of innovation and imagination.
we turned back a tide of intolerance and embraced inclusion. the "we" who did those things were more than those in power who wanted to change course. it was millions of ordinary citizens, especially young people, who voted, marched, and organized. now, of course today has some important differences. the advance of technology, the impact of the internet, our fragmented media landscape, make it easier than ever to splinter ourselves into echo chambers. we can shut out contrary voices, avoid ever questioning our basic assumptions. extreme views are given powerful microphones.
leaders willing to exploit fear and skepticism have tools at their disposal that were unimaginable when i graduated. and here's what that means to you, the class of 2017. you are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. just log on -- [applause] ms. clinton: just log on to [inaudible conversations] -- ms. clinton: just log on to social media for 1seconds. it will hit you right in the face. people denying science, concocting elaborate, hurtful conspiracy theories about child-abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors. [laughter] ms. clinton: drumming up rampant fear about undocumented
immigrants, muslims, minorities, the poor, turning neighbor against neighbor and sowing division at a time when we desperately need unity. some are even denying things we see with our own eyes, like the size of crowds. [laughter and applause] ms. clinton: and then defending themselves by talking about quote-unquote "alternative facts." [laughter] ms. clinton: but this is serious business. look at the budget that was just proposed in washington. it is an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and
hard-working people who need a little help to gain or hang on to a decent middle-class life. it grossly under-funds public education, mental health, and efforts even to combat the opioid epidemic. and in reversing our commitment to fight climate change, it puts the future of our nation and our world at risk. [applause] ms. clinton: and to top it off, it is shrouded in a trillion-dollar mathematical lie. let's call it what it is. it is a con. they don't even try to hide it. why does all this matter?
it matters because if our leaders lie about the problems we face, we'll never solve them. it matters because it undermines confidence in government as a whole, which in turn breeds more cynicism and anger. but it also matters because our country, like this college, was founded on the principles of the enlightenment. in particular, the belief that people, you and i, possess the capacity for reason and critical thinking, and that free and open debate is the lifeblood of a democracy. [applause] ms. clinton: not only wellesley, but the entire american university system, the in the of
the world, it was founded on those fundamental ideals. we should not abandon them, we should revere them. we should aspire to them every single day, in everything we do. [applause] ms. clinton: there is something else. as the history majors among you here today know all too well, when people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society. [applause] ms. clinton: that is not hyperbole. it is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done. they attempt to control reality.
not just our laws and rights and our budgets, but our thoughts and beliefs. right now, some of you might wonder, well why am i telling you all of this? you don't own a cable news network. you don't control the facebook algorithm. you aren't a member of congress yet. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: because i believe with all my heart that the future of america, indeed, the future of the world, depends on brave, thoughtful people like you insisting on truth and integrity, right now, every day. you didn't create these circumstances, but you have the power to change them. [applause]
ms. clinton: vaclav havel, the dissident playwright, first president of the czech republic, wrote an essay called "the power of the powerless." and in it, he said, "the moment someone breaks through in one place, when one person cries out, 'the emperor is naked,' when a single person breaks the rules of the game, thus exposing it as a game, everything suddenly appears in another light." what he's telling us is if you feel powerless, don't. don't let anyone tell you your voice doesn't matter.
in the years to come, there will be trolls galore. [laughter] ms. clinton: online and in person, eager to tell you that you don't have anything worthwhile to say or anything meaningful to contribute. they may even call you a nasty woman. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: some may take a slightly more sophisticated approach and say your elite education means you are out of touch with real people. in other words, "sit down and shut up." now, in my experience, that's the last thing you should ever tell a wellesley graduate. [cheers and applause]
ms. clinton: and here's the good news. what you've learned these four years is precisely what you need to face the challenges of this moment. first, you learned critical thinking. i can still remember the professors who challenged me to make decisions with good information, rigorous reasoning, real deliberation. i know we didn't have much of that in this past election, but we have to get back to it. after all, in the words of my predecessor in the senate, daniel patrick moynihan, "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts"" [applause]
ms. clinton: and your education gives you more than knowledge. it gives you the power to keep learning and apply what you know to improve your life and the lives of others. because you are beginning your careers with one of the best educations in the world, i think you do have a special responsibility to give others the chance to learn and think for themselves, and to learn from them, so that we can have the kind of open, fact-based debate necessary for our democracy to survive and flourish. and along the way, you may be convinced to change your mind from time to time. you know what? that is ok. take it from me, the former president of the wellesley college young republicans. [laughter and applause]
ms. clinton: second, you learned the value of an open mind and an open society. at their best, our colleges and universities are free market places of ideas, embracing a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. that's our country at our best, too. an open, inclusive, diverse society is the opposite of and antidote to a closed society, where there is only one right way to think, believe, and act. here at wellesley, you've worked hard to turn this ideal into a reality. you've spoken out against racism and sexism and xenophobia and discrimination of all kinds. and you've shared your own stories. and at times, that has taken courage.
but the only way our society will ever become a place where everyone truly belongs is if all of us speak openly and honestly about who we are, what we're going through. so keep doing that. and let me add that your learning, listening, and serving should include people who don't agree with you politically. a lot of our fellow americans have lost faith in the existing economic, social, political, and cultural conditions of our country. many feel left behind, left out, looked down on. their anger and alienation has proved a fertile ground for false promises and false information. their economic problems and cultural anxiety must be
addressed, or they will continue to sign up to be foot-soldiers in the ongoing conflict between "us" and "them." the opportunity is here. millions of people will be hurt by the policies, including this budget that is being considered. and many of these same people don't want dreamers deported or health care taken away. many don't want to retreat on civil rights, women's rights, and lgbt rights. so if your outreach is rebuffed, keep trying. do the right thing anyway. we're going to share this future. better to do so with open hearts and outstretched hands than closed minds and clenched fists. [applause]
ms. clinton: and third, here at wellesley, you learned the power of service. because while free and fierce conversations in classrooms, dorm rooms, dining halls are vital, they only get us so far. you have to turn those ideas and those values into action. this college has always understood that. the motto which you've heard twice already, "not to be ministered unto, but to minister," is as true today as it ever was. if you think about it, it's kind of an old-fashioned rendering of president kennedy's great statement, "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." not long ago, i got a note from a group of wellesley alums and students who had supported me in the campaign. they worked their hearts out.
and, like a lot of people, they are wondering, what do we do now? i think there is only one answer, keep going. don't be afraid of your ambition, of your dreams, or even your anger. those are powerful forces, but harness them to make a difference in the world. stand up for truth and reason. do it in private, in conversations with your family, your friends, your workplace, your neighborhood. and do it in public, in media posts, on social media, or grab a sign and head to a protest. make defending truth and a free society a core value of your life every single day. so wherever you wind up next, the minute you get there, register to vote. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: and while you're at
it, encourage others to do so. and then vote in every election, not just the presidential ones. bring others to vote. fight every effort to restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to be able to vote as well. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: get involved in a cause that matters to you. pick one, start somewhere. you don't have to do everything, but don't sit on the sidelines. and you know, get to know your elected officials. if you disagree with them, ask questions. challenge them. better yet, run for office yourself someday. [applause] ms. clinton: now that's not for everybody, i know. and it's certainly not for the faint of heart. but it is worth it.
as they say in one of my favorite movies, "a league of their own," "it's supposed to be hard. the hard is what makes it great." as tala said, the day after the election, i did want to speak particularly to women and girls everywhere, especially young women, because you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world. not just your future, but our future depends on you believing that. we need your smarts, of course, but we also need your compassion, your curiosity, your stubbornness. and remember, you are even more powerful because you have so many people supporting you, cheering you on, standing with you through good times and bad.
our culture often celebrates people who appear to go it alone. but the truth is, that's not how life works. anything worth doing takes a village. and you build that village by investing love and time into your relationships. and in those moments for whatever reason when it might feel bleak, think back to this place where women have the freedom to take risks, make mistakes, even fail in front of each other. channel the strength of your wellesley classmates and experiences. i guarantee you, it'll help you stand up a little straighter, feel a little braver, knowing that the things you joked about and even took for granted can be your secret weapons for your future.
one of the things that gave me the most hope and joy after the election when i really needed it was meeting so many young people who told me that my defeat had not defeated them. [cheers and applause] ms. clinton: and i'm going to devote a lot of my future to helping you make your mark in the world. i created a new organization called onward together to help recruit and train future leaders organize for real and lasting change. the work never ends. when i graduated and made that speech, i did say, and some of you might have pictures from that day with this on it, "the challenge now is to practice
politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible." that was true then. it is truer today. i never could have imagined where i would have been 48 years later. certainly never that i would have run for the presidency of the united states or seen progress for women in all walks of life over the course of my lifetime. and yes, put millions of more cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling. [applause] ms. clinton: because just in those years, doors that once seemed sealed to women are now opened. they're ready for you to walk through or charge through, to advance the struggle for equality, justice and freedom. so whatever your dreams are today, dream even bigger.
wherever you have set your sights, raise them even higher. and above all, keep going. don't do it because i asked you to. do it for yourself. do it for truth and reason. do it because the history of wellesley and this country tells us it's often during the darkest times when you can do the most good. double down on your passions. be bold. try, fail, try again, and lean on each other. hold onto your values. never give up on those dreams. i'm very optimistic about the future, because i think, after we've tried a lot of other things, we get back to the business of america. i believe in you. with all my heart, i want you to believe in yourself. so go forth, be great.
comments on "washington journal." after that, a look at commencement speeches from across the country beginning with arnold schwarzenegger at the university of houston and former vice president joe biden. regardless of your background, remember where you came from. hold on to the way so many of you have reached out to mentor young persons. hold on to the way you engaged in this community, and make sure to bring that commitment to whatever walk of life you choose. bravery, not perfection is the key that are marked every door that i have walked through. it took me 33 years to figure out that brown girls can do white guy things too. >> you are here because of a lot of help. others. time to help
>> that is what this is all about. tonight, 2017 commencement speeches. speakers include arnold biden, theger, joe , javiero go to founder governor rick snyder. easternat eight across on c-span and c-span.org. >> this morning, american enterprise institutes gary schmitt and truman national security projects michael breen . and later, "world" magazine
reporter sophia lee talks about her recent articles on homelessness in los angeles. and we'll take your calls and you can join the conversation at facebook and twitter. washington journal" is next. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016]] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] host: good morning. it's saturday, may 27, 2017. president trump returns to washington today after more than a week overseas. we'll talk about his trip later on this morning. but first, commencement season is in full swing. and college graduates across the country are soaking up lots of straight talks from politicians, celebrities and c.e.o.'s. their commencement speeches full of advice for chasing success, discovering passions and thriving out in the real world. and the question we put to you this hour is what's your advice to the class of 2017? what do you think graduates should know if they