tv Commencement Speeches Stacey Abrams American University CSPAN May 29, 2019 8:00pm-8:28pm EDT
in the congress of the united states. thank you all. c-span,xt on commencement addresses from around the nation. first, we hear from former georgia state lawmaker stacey abrams. congressmancarolina mark walker. and later, president john f. kennedy's 1963 commencement speech at american university, which became known as jfk's east speech. -- peace speech. abrams was the 2018 democratic nominee for georgia governor. a race she lost. this year, she was the commencement speaker at american university in washington. american university in
a very mean boy. going to find ot love because i too committed to things.her i possibly said inappropriate things back to him. i don't remember. but i remember i was going to going owe i was control the world and make his life very, very difficult. and so i took myself to the computer lab at spellman college. thank you. this is back in 1992. so when i turned on the computer, i did not log on to the internet. lotus 1, 2, 3. i typed out all things i wanted to accomplish for 40 years. mayor of atlanta. i wanted to be some where near oprah. i wanted to be a writer.
i knew the way i can get these things done is write it down. enned my spread sheet my his lt olum tends to precious, i've erased things and i had no d realized ing about.i was talk i was trying to prepare to succeed. that what i want to talk to you about today. you don't have to plan your life the way i did. epare to succeed by knowingwhat we believe, what we want, and knowing sometimes, it might in the work. what you need to know believe. our ambitions, our decisions, by whatonses are shaped we hold to be true. beyond party and ideology are
hat shape labels adhere wrens to conservative, progressive, democrat, republican, r dependent, being pro this o antithat, becomes an excuse for lazy thinking and for hostile action. urge you to set side your labels and explore what your principles say about wish to serve. our beliefs are anchors, about not, it leads to tunism. they should in the weigh us down, but weigh down our pa passity for thoughtful engagement and compromise. i served in the house of representatives and they told me my ability to be successful minority title was leader.
what they wanted me to understand what the system is designed to do is force compromise and force our beliefs lived. that is why i was able to work with a republican governor to push forward the strongest package of criminal justice reform in georgia history and i history.american said--thank elief you. my belief said i had to set ork we're ls for the w going to do together, and it worked. we also have to understand public policy is complicated. we're balancing needs and desires of many demands that all seem to have merit. and as leaders you represent valuesho share your core despise all that you hold dear, therefore, your elief must be concrete, fundamental, and have you to
know what they are. be willing to distinguish between a core idea an something twitter, you'll impose your belief through policy and action. me to deeply i examine those notions you call your own. be certain you'd ask others to but deny e principles access or restrict someone's freedom to enforce that belief. what ndamentally that is do do. tensies are ten not cores for belief. at. can talk about th it's okay. i'm the daughter of two united methodist ministers. one of the darkest days of my dife was the day my parents sai they were not taken up to heaven with them. we're coming back from church omment my mom said
look. what you figure out believe because we can't take you with us. she was telling us we had to exanin what we wanted to be true and how we're going to live our lives. they were there as guide posts but nevering to to be able to make our decisions for us. they wanted us to understand needed to hold our core beliefs because our beliefs would shape the world. so if you believe something, make sure you mean it. nce you though what you believe, try in the to believe in too much. follow folk who's are absolutely certain they know everything. ones who have a definite opinion about every headline, decision, an answer e you before they ask a question. if you can't figure out that it might be you. beliefs shouldn't be on everything. public policy usually isn't good
or evil. eresting. it's not int it's mundane and cuts across nations and ideologies. but when your lens only allows for a single myopic focus, you do not have capacity to be a leader because you leave in room nd miss true role of government and public policy and arn and to ce to le become a better public servant. i o have core believes but don't have an unshakeable belief on any issue. i do not believe taxes are if or evil of. ty is an owe bomb nation and we have to restore to criminal justice. i believe climate change is real but there not one answer to ofl solving the problem. enough to render judgment.
which is why i have to study and read everything i can, specially counter arguments to my own position. we must seek to understand what others believe and why. i had a with friend in the state legislate you're, bobby franklin. we both agreed we're both from georgia. that is about it. ation introduced legisl every year i would have opposed every year. but we sat and talked and able to ne another and work together on a beal. civil asset forfeitu forfeiture. it was so startling and body the g to the speaker called it up without following process. we think it passed because eople were too stunned to say
no. ected his rural white community and my urban black community. beyond our to move positions and hear our arguments find a solution together. t have a guy migh this and if it turns out alitys hiking terrifying re may be you're accused of mrip flopping. society that seeks to champion knowledge, we must person can change what he, or she believes as long as and grounded tic in philosophy and reality. changing who you are for others l leaders.thy of rea
in this day and age, evolution is based on investigation and people are willing to admit they made a mistake that should be nd ebrated and welcomed a makes us smarter, and better and stronger. be careful to know if you're evolving or caving in in. the internet will never let you forget. and whether you leave here a citizen, ker or active be clear the difference between principle and policy, belief and behavior. policy is what she should do. we do ple, belief is why it. so know what you believe, no why you believe it and be willing to understand the other side.
hat you believe. know what you want. some of you may have heard in governor of georgia. first few weeks of announcing my candidacy, i did what you're supposed to do. reach out to friends, and family to raise absurd money to try to become an elected official. my family has in money. so i was calling friends. and then, in the coarse of the 42 says i raised over $ million. he most by any candidate in georgia history. but it didn't start out that way. i started to call friends, invested in me in 2006. people invested in me when i stood to become minority leader and supported new georgia project, an organization to colorter 300,000 people of in the state of georgia.
people stood with me at every turn. but over and over, i recall and i would hear "stacy by they talented". you're so qualified. 're a black woman. know. like, i but they whispered it to me as they're giving me a terminal diagnosis. people i have known for years i wasn't ready for this. it was suggested that i support ing and r person runn just ask for a role in her administration. that didn't work for me then. now.oesn't work for me i was told i needed to wait me.il georgia was ready for
i was told to wait my turn. stening to le, li people who supported me i started to wonder if they're pushing nd maybe i was too far, too fast, maybe what i wanted wasn't real, or possible. ed to their doubts and rnalize until i reminded myself i knew what i to get nd i had a plan it. aim high temptation to ill be ck ambitions w strong especially there are those that don't share them. edit your desires. you're here in the stays and world to want what you want, regardless of how big the dream you may are to get and may stumble but the journey is worth the work. an ot allow logic to be ex-clues for setting low
expectations. you know? this occurs when we lou ourselves to be blessless because we think if it's possible, someone would have done it before. the fact is that no one can tell you who you are. no one has done this before doesn't mean it can't be done. became the first black woman to be a major party nominee for nation's in our 242-year history. et's be clear, i i'm realize i'm in the the governor. i do not ask why hasn't anyone else done it? i ask how do i get it? if we have ambition to save our world we have to ask how we do it. not why it hasn't been done before. that is why you're here and that going forward to
do how? write it down and make a plan. let it y to forget and and if you see a title on a roster but don't make a re, you'll be e regretting it for your life. if you know what you want, draw the map.to you need to be prepared to know, it might not work. 2019.ise known as stacy, our beliefs may close off d enues available to others an ambitions may be too audacious traditional to y ths and our persons ma
challenge the status quo. to try u might have again to, take advantage we must be prepared to fail. to stumble. or to win in a way that looks imagined.ke you've for those of us had are not must teed access we realize in the all worlds operate the same. discover ired to hidden formulas to success, opportunity looks nothing like we've expected but to have this real possibility, look for entry. points of i began by learning how to do me through to get my goal. i needed to know how to manage a ney, make tough choices so i volunteered to fund raise when no one else wanted to. i showed up in places i wasn't expected and asked to do jobs other as voided. each of you harbor the dreams seeming out sized, maybe too big toed amitt. you see, i have talked about my
d have within y an discouraged from doing so. but i wanted to be the governor of be gia and intended to president of the united states. between. [ applause ]. the workse is to do do to make those things rule not for myself but the person thinking i twhant, too. it aloud. to say opportunities e for others to follow. e are going to be obstacles towards get tlchlth if ou are willing to put in the effort, to accept the grunt work to, t you prove your medal
dare to what you've imagined it will come. and y not be in the form shape you expected, but ddress es, leads you to a a group of people you didn't have a chance to meet because your stumble led you into opportunities.ew utilize the network, you're joining an extraordinary ates from the radu american university. you may not know everyone, most a the help you need is only few degree as way. ask for it. and if you don't get what you need, ask for it again, broaden who knows whom and who can help power lies. don't ignore the it guy, house keeping or mid level associate out what t figured they do.
because the thing of it is is that administrative assistant that can squeeze you on to that inlendar you're trying to get to that. it's a janitor that can open the o do e when you forgot t something that needs to be done. it's the person, intern that can that last minute project. regardless of status, those who hare our space are part of our networks. show them respect. the way.can show you ed it might not work, embrace the fail and search for new opportunities. campaign for f governor, about ten days i allowed in despair and then, reminded myself of why i got into this in the first place. in ew up in poverty mississippi.
a working class poverty my mom called the gentile poor, we had no money but watched pbs and read books. my family would wake us up on saturdays to go, and serve, take omeless chens and h shelters and juvenile justice ursing homes, n we'd point out lights were off at home and didn't have running mind us mother would re there is someone with less and our job is to serve that person. d saying in having nudging is not an excuse for doing nothing. so i ran for governor because i we ieve in a better world, can educate our children, guarantee economic security and access to justice and clean environment and more is possible for all of us. i believe you can center communities of color and lized andge the margina not exclude those who have
opportunity in access. we can be an exclusive society ating notions of society to say we see your you cles and we'll make better because of them. ran. is why i instead i decided to sound voter because i believe suppress is real and we'll fight for voter rights and electoral integrity. in the united states of america. do. is what we're going to nd we have census a
to make sure everyone is counted because if not, they'll not opportunity.is our is where i expected to be today. maybe before 2020 and maybe reese rooe or me, sponsibility is to act as today is the day because of the work that awaits us. that is your charge, your calling and your obligation. when life doesn't work, acknowledge the pain, reject the conclusion. our principles exist to sustain us. here to drive are t us. and our stumble to remind us work endures. public service is a passion play. it's a drama of how to shape the
lives of those around us and ources, raise hopes and ground our dreams in rebust reality. you stand as architects of our lives, those who don't fret, or stand on the side signs to make it work. you're here because you believe more is possible. trained to been make more a reality and have you accepted your destiny as public current, leaders for our age. our nation is grappling with questions and our allies and how we watch to see respond. the tension of elections pull governance.ncy of we cannot forget they're not the same thing. might be tempted to harden yourself and wall yourself off from people, ideas that challenge your direction. you're here in this school, because you understand the
deeper calling of our obligations. so serve the grace that is our social contract to, build a stronger, more resilient world. theyou're the embodiment of most deeply held belief of everyone here. that american university, the school of public affairs, that your friends, your family, your classmates and i hold today. you'll illuminate us today, and forward. we believe in you. thank you. >> we continue our look at some