President Joe Biden, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Morehouse Faculty, Commencement Ceremony

President Biden Announced As Morehouse College Commencement Speaker Amid Campus Protests

Upon the news of Biden's appointment as speaker, students and faculty began voicing their concerns due to his support of Israel.

President Joe Biden will take part in this year’s graduation festivities at Morehouse College. Biden will deliver the commencement address at the Atlanta HBCU’s ceremony on May 19.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the news on April 22, and the White House confirmed the announcement. However, not everyone in the campus community was elated to hear the news as rumors emerged the week before. Addressing the matter, the college’s provost, Kendrick Brown, wrote to faculty about their concerns regarding Biden’s appointment as speaker.

“This week, I received an inquiry from concerned faculty about rumors they were hearing about President Biden’s selection as the 2024 Commencement speaker,” wrote Brown, who also serves as the senior vice president for academic affairs.

A letter obtained by ABC News circulated across the Morehouse community as well. It urged officials to revoke the invitation, stating that their famed alum, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would not support the choice.

“In inviting President Biden to campus, the college affirms a cruel standard that complicity in genocide merits no sanction from the institution that produced one of the towering advocates for nonviolence of the twentieth century,” the letter states. “If the college cannot affirm this noble tradition of justice by rescinding its invitation to President Biden, then the college should reconsider its attachment to Dr. King.”

The Morehouse official intends to host a virtual forum that would allow faculty “with different prospectives” to explain their thoughts. As for students, they expect to voice their concerns with President David Thomas.

The news comes as a growing number of campuses deal with protests against the conflict in Israel and the West Bank. Columbia University students spearheaded the recent wave, leading the school’s administration to call the NYPD on protestors. Other students across the nation began to hold their own demonstrations in solidarity.

Protestors are condemning Biden’s continued support for Israel as the war in Gaza wages on. Many are also calling for their schools to specifically divest from Israeli-owned companies.

This year’s graduations also take place during an election year, and courting the Black vote is especially important to Biden for his reelection. NBC News reports that his placement at the all-men’s HBCU seeks to not only connect with young voters, but revitalize a Black electorate that has grown jaded with his administration.

Thus far, the college still plans to host Biden at its 140th commencement. However, his appearance may not come to fruition as tensions across campuses grow.