“We don’t move forward by preparing to crash,” he told the crowd of nearly 8,000 who gathered in the Panther Stadium for the commencement convocation earlier this week.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not underestimated – still at 52 years old—that I’m not underappreciated and undervalued – and still I rise, still I rise, still I rise,” Lemon told the crowd, according to the university.
“And you want to know why? Because I have no choice, and you have no choice. Even with everything I’ve said, there are no excuses for you and no excuses for me, either.”
Lemon told the newly minted CAU alumni that they do not embark on “this heroic journey” alone.
“You’re not going out there on your own. You’re going with us,” he said. “And change isn’t just on your shoulders, it’s on our shoulders. And you cannot give up … because if you give you, you give up on all of us. When you abandon hope or descend into depression, you deprive us of the light that only you can shine.”
Citing the “Me, Too” and the gun control movement galvanized by high school students in Parkland, Florida, Lemon told the graduates that they too must recognize their own movement. “You are the new black power movement. Hear me,” he said. “You are the living history. You are living a revolution.”
“I know a revolution when I see one,” he said. Instead of an ending, Lemon said commencement is the start of a new beginning. “We have dreamed about a different world where we live a life of quality, opportunity and justice. But those dreams are in the past.
He went on to say: “It’s time for the second act, where dreams become reality, possibility becomes probability, and opportunity become change, ideas become action.”
Lemon, along with television writer and producer, Kenya Barris, and former UNCF executive and television personality Billy Suber Aaron received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
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