Morehouse graduation: Biden tells graduates he hears their protests in Gaza – Top Stories (Trending Perfect)

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ATLANTA (AP) — President Joe Biden on Sunday offered direct acknowledgment of American students' struggles over the coronavirus Israel-Hamas warHe told alumni of the historic Black Morehouse College that he heard their voices of protest and that the scenes of conflict in Gaza also break his heart.

“I support peaceful, peaceful protest,” he told students at the male college, some of whom wore Palestinian scarves known as keffiyehs around their shoulders over their black graduation dresses. “Your voices need to be heard, and I promise I do.”

Biden said there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, “which is why I called for an immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting” and the return of hostages still being held by Hamas after its militants attacked Israel on October 7. The president's comments came. Towards the end of his inaugural speech he also spoke about American democracy and his role in protecting it.

“It is one of the most difficult and complex problems in the world,” Biden said. “Nothing about this is easy. I know this angers and frustrates a lot of you, including my family. But most of all, I know it breaks your heart. It breaks mine, too.”

So far, Biden has limited his public comments about protests on American college campuses to supporting the right to peaceful protest.

The speech — and a separate speech he gave later Sunday in Detroit — are part of a wave of outreach to Black voters by the Democratic president, whose support among those voters has declined since their strong support helped put him in the Oval Office.

Biden spent most of his roughly 30-minute speech focusing on problems at home. condemned Donald Trump's speech on immigrants He noted that the Class of 2024 entered the college during the Covid-19 pandemic and after the killing of… George FloydA black man was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Biden said it was normal for them and others to wonder whether the democracy “you hear about is actually for you.”

“If black men were killed in the street. What is democracy?” he asked. “The impact of the broken promises that continue to leave black communities behind. What is democracy? If you have to be ten times better than everyone else to have a fair shot.” .

Anti-war protests have rocked American college campuses. Columbia University has canceled its main commencement ceremony. in Morehouse, announcing that Biden will be the official speaker at the inauguration It sparked some backlash among faculty and those opposed to the president's handling of the war. Some Morehouse alumni circulated a letter online condemning officials for inviting Biden and asking for signatures to pressure Morehouse President David Thomas to rescind it.

President Joe Biden, right, congratulates DeAngelo valedictorian Jeremiah Fletcher at the Morehouse College commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Joe Biden, right, congratulates DeAngelo valedictorian Jeremiah Fletcher at the Morehouse College commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

DeAngelo valedictorian Jeremiah Fletcher displays his mortar board with a protest image representing the Palestinian flag as President Joe Biden speaks to graduating students at the Morehouse College commencement Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

DeAngelo valedictorian Jeremiah Fletcher displays his mortar board with a protest image representing the Palestinian flag as President Joe Biden speaks to graduating students at the Morehouse College commencement Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Graduating students arrive at a commencement ceremony at Morehouse College before President Joe Biden speaks, Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Graduating students arrive at a commencement ceremony at Morehouse College before President Joe Biden speaks, Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The letter claimed that Biden's approach toward Israel amounts to support for genocide in Gaza and is inconsistent with the pacifism expressed by Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse's most famous alumnus.

The Hamas attack on southern Israel killed 1,200 people. The Israeli attack led to the deaths of more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to health officials in the Strip.

In the end, there were no disturbances at the Morehouse ceremony while the applause for Biden was mostly subdued. At least seven graduates and a faculty member sat with their backs turned during Biden's speech, and another student wrapped himself in the Palestinian flag. Protesters near the concert carried signs reading “Free Palestine,” “Save the Children,” and “Ceasefire Now,” while police on bicycles looked on.

On the podium behind the president as he spoke, academics raised the Congolese flag. The African country is overwhelmed Civil warMany racial justice advocates have called for greater attention to the conflict as well as American assistance in ending the violence.

During his speech, DeAngelo valedictorian Jeremiah Fletcher, of Chicago, said it was his duty to speak out about the war in Gaza and acknowledge what Palestinians and Israelis have suffered. He called for “an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.”

An attendee stands with his back to President Joe Biden as Biden speaks to graduating students at the Morehouse College commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

An attendee stands with his back to President Joe Biden as Biden speaks to graduating students at the Morehouse College commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“The temperature on campus was predictable given the President of the United States was coming and speaking,” said alumnus Kingsley John. John said he stood in “solidarity” with his classmates and that Biden “seemed reflective and open to hearing feedback.”

Morehouse awarded Biden an honorary doctorate in laws. After accepting the honor, he joked, “I'm not going home,” as chants of “four more years” broke out in the audience. Biden then traveled to Detroit to address thousands who attended the local NAACP branch's annual Freedom Fund dinner.

Georgia and Michigan are among a handful of states that will help decide an expected November rematch between Biden and Trump. Biden narrowly won Georgia and Michigan in 2020, and needs strong turnout from black voters in Atlanta and Detroit if he hopes to repeat in November.

Biden spent part of last week reaching out to Black voters. It highlighted key moments in the civil rights movement, since its 70th anniversary The landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education Which banned racial segregation in public schools Little Rock Ninewho helped integrate a public school in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. He also met members of the “Divine Nine” black fraternities and sororities.

At the NAACP dinner, Biden told a large Black crowd numbering in the thousands that Trump wanted to pardon those who were convicted of crimes during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, calling them “patriots.” He noted that Trump would not have been as nice if they were people of color.

“Let me ask you, what would he have done on January 6th if black Americans had stormed the Capitol?” Biden asked. “What do you think? I can imagine.”

Asked about the response, Trump campaign spokeswoman Carolyn Leavitt criticized Biden's comments as “preposterous” and described them as a “desperate” attempt to divert attention from Biden's record of poor poll numbers, high inflation, and “violent protests and immigrant crime.” All over the United States. nation.

The speech gave Biden an opportunity to reach thousands of people in Wayne County, which has historically voted overwhelmingly Democratic but has shown signs of resistance to his reelection bid.

The county also has one of the largest Arab-American populations in the country, most of whom are in the United States City of Dearborn. The leaders there were at the forefront The “Uncommitted” effort received more than 100,000 votes in the state's Democratic primary and has spread across the country.

A protest march and march against Biden's visit was held in Dearborn in the afternoon.

In Detroit, guests at an NAACP dinner were greeted by more than 200 pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside the entrance to the convention center. They waved Palestinian flags, raised banners demanding a ceasefire and chanted, “Free, free Palestine.”

“Until Joe Biden listens to his core voters, he risks handing the presidency to Donald Trump,” said Lexi Zidane, a protest leader who helped lead the protest effort that led to more than 100,000 “disengaged” people voting in the Democratic primary in February. “.

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Associated Press writers Joy Cappelletti in Lansing, Michigan, and Colleen Long and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.


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