NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For a day all about pomp, these were certainly unique circumstances on the campus of Tennessee State University. After about a 12 minute delay in the graduation program, stalling for the Vice President’s arrival, Kamala Harris was greeted with loud cheers and the Vice President’s tune “Hail Columbia” over the loudspeakers.
Harris even shared a few fist bumps on the way to the lectern. “Graduates, I know it has been a long hard road but you all made it, you made it,” said Vice President Harris to the crowd gathered at Hale Stadium.
She began her remarks commending the impending graduates for making it through a tough few years. “Your class has traveled a stony road, a pandemic that took away so much of the college experience that you once imagined, and the world you graduate into, is unsettled,” said Harris.
The Vice President quickly transitioned from pomp to politics. “In the United States, we are once again forced to defend fundamental principles that we hoped were long settled. Principles like the freedom to vote, the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies,” she said.
Harris also touched upon income inequality, the climate crisis and access to healthcare, among other talking points. But then she suggested to the Class of 2022 that they should be part of the solution. “Your time at Tennessee State has unlocked unimaginable opportunities for your future, because you see, HBCUs like this — they are cathedrals of education,” said Harris. “Graduates, we need you. We need you to run companies and make decisions about who has access to capital, we need you to serve at the highest levels of government and determine our country’s standing in the world.”
Shortly after Harris ended her remarks, she was brought back up to the lectern to receive her honorary doctorate from TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover. After being hooded by top university brass, Harris quipped, “I guess I’m now a Tiger.”
In all, TSU conferred more than 500 undergraduate degrees during Saturday’s ceremony.
You can watch the full commencement ceremony here.