Today I attended my girlfriend's college graduation. She is graduating from Georgia College & State University. The procession was at 9:00 am so it was rough. Overall though, I enjoyed the ceremony very much. The guest speaker for the procession was Rev. Charles Mervin Sherrod. He is a civil rights activist, and the clinical chaplain at the Georgia State Prison in Homerville, Ga. He has a distinguished career and he's a good man.
I could see what was happening though. Georgia has become dangerously conservative over the years, and here was a black reverand, civil rights activist, of course he's going to be anti-bush doctrine too. In his speech, which I thought was well put together and, delivered superbly given that he was talking indirectly to a hostile audience. He also made some excellent points (well, he stated facts really) about poverty and the dangerous rate at which the american middle class is disappearing. I could tell the parents of the grads were getting antsy. Next, he brought up Iraq and Afghanistan in this manner:
"Are we really in Afghanistan to battle terrorism?"
"Are we really in Iraq to battle terrorism?"
The crowd leveled him. A parent shouted "YEA!" and many parents erupted in applause. Sherrod was booed and yelled at...truly disrespected. I was absolutely appalled. I wasn't surprised the parents reacted, just that they reacted so harshly. After most of the calamity was over, a woman a couple of rows behind me said, "What does this have to do with graduation?" Well lady, let me enlighten you.
I found Sherrod courageous, but he had to know he was going to be indirectly talking to a hostile audience. Luckily, he was doing was addressing the graduates, and they were very receptive to what he had to say. These kids are going to be running this country one day, and he was imposing a call to action. He was trying to get the point across that if these situations (poverty, disinterest, and bogus wars) aren't dealt with soon then we (America) are going to have a serious problem. He wasn't accusing anybody, not one time did he mention democrats, republicans, or even Bush. He didn't even draw conclusions about the two "wars". All he was doing was challenging people to think critically.
The best part of the speech was the end. When he stepped off the podium ALL of the graduates gave him a glorious standing ovation. It left me feeling enormous optimism about my generation.
When I had a chance to talk to my girlfriend she told me that when the parents showed their butts she heard murmurs among her colleagues saying things like, "He's telling the truth..." "They need to just leave, or shut up because he's telling the truth."
God bless you class of 2006. Lets take back America!