NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Saturday morning, Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the undergraduate commencement address to Tennessee State University graduates, telling students there "is no barrier you cannot break." The speech was the first time a sitting Vice President to have graduated from HBCU delivered the keynote address at an HBCU’s Commencement.
You can watch Vice President's Harris' full speech in the video player at the top of the story.
"Each of you has your own story," Vice President Harris told students. "Your own way of looking at the world, shaped by every moment that brought you to this point. I was around your age when I made the decision that I wanted to take on systemic problems from inside the system. That I would seek solutions through the lens of my own experiences and perspectives. That I wanted—that I needed—to be in the rooms where decisions were being made. Graduates, you stand on the brink of a new frontier…and we need you in the room helping to make these decisions.”
Harris also spoke on major political issues, including the right to vote and women's health. "You graduate into an unsettled world, both abroad and here at home," Vice President Harris said. "In the United States, we are once again forced to defend fundamental principles that we hoped are long settled. Principles like the freedom to vote, the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies. Even what constitutes the truth, especially in an era when anyone can post anything online and claim it is a fact."
“I want you to always remember that you are not alone," Vice President Harris said. "That you come from people. That you come with people. Because I promise you, there will be a time when you walk into a boardroom, or a courtroom, or maybe even the Situation Room. You will walk into the room, and find that you are the only person there who looks like you or has had your life experience. At that moment, you must remember you are not in that room alone.”
This morning I will deliver the undergraduate commencement address at Tennessee State University.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 7, 2022
Students—this is your moment. You worked hard to get to this day. I'm proud to celebrate this incredible achievement with you.
Vice President Harris also accepted an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the school, a degree which recognizes individuals who "inspire others, personify excellence, integrity, and commitment, and enhance the public good," according to the school.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin were among those in attendance
Nearly 900 students will receive degrees from TSU this spring.