America, be America: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice, not just for some, but justice for all. America, be America.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, a graduate of Hobart College, delivered the commencement address at Hobart and William Smith Colleges for the graduating class of 2020.
Like the Greatest Generation, the Classes of 2020 have been “formed and forged in a crucible of hardship,” as the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry ’75, D.D. ’20 told graduates in his Commencement address. Curry, the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, said: “Part of your most important formation as human beings has happened in the crucible not of a Great Depression, but of a great pandemic.”
After a year delay due to COVID-19, 2020 graduates gathered on campus for the weekend to celebrate, culminating in the ceremony on Sunday.
In his speech, Curry recalled his father telling him as a child: “The Lord didn’t put us here just to consume oxygen.” That line became a rhetorical touchstone and reminder to graduates, as Curry reflected on the ways hardship and sacrifice reveal what is important.
Following the murder of George Floyd last year, Curry saw something from young protesters that he had not seen before. He described: “a rising up of a generation of young people, and more than that, they were the most multiethnic, multiracial, pluralistic, rainbow children of God that America has ever seen. And they — you — rose up and called on America: America, be America. Stand up for liberty and justice. America, be America: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice, not just for some, but justice for all. America, be America. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, not by vote of Congress, not by vote of parliament, not by a priest, pope, potentate or preacher, but endowed by the creator with an unalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. America, be that…then you’ll be a shining city on the hill.”
Curry was awarded an honorary doctorate.