Following President Joe Biden's commencement speech Sunday morning, Morehouse College has released a statement via their social media accounts. The statement comes after some students and faculty members engaged in peaceful and silent protests and the conferring of an honorary degree for Biden.

The statement read:

Peaceful assembly is core to the Morehouse College social justice tradition. The Morehouse College administration fully supports and defends the right to peacefully protest and the expression of one's views openly. Our faculty are some of the best social scholars that higher academia has to offer, and they are training up the world's next generation of community and industry leaders who will continue our institution's history-making legacy.

The world frequently quotes our most famous and beloved alumnus, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but the world must know that without Morehouse, there would be no Dr. King. It is fitting that a moment of organized, peaceful activism would occur on our campus while the world is watching to continue a critical conversation. We are proud of the resilient class of 2024's unity in silent protest, showing their intentionality in strategy, communication, and coordination as a 414-person unit.

Finally, after many facilitated conversations with The White House amongst students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we are moved that President Biden chose the Morehouse stage to announce another $16 billion investment in HBCUs as well as call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war. We appreciate the partnership of President Biden and The White House staff for listening and, most importantly, applying what our community and the global society have requested. The work is nowhere near finished, and Morehouse College will continue centering consequential, nuanced dialogue and critique to foster positive societal change.

Morehouse College President Dr. David Thomas also commended how the graduates of Morehouse handled themselves during the ceremony in his closing remarks.

“I want to congratulate you and some of you wore signs of your allegiances and feelings, but you did so in a dignified way. You did so in a way that made clear your stances, but did not reach to dehumanize or demonize. Those are the two forces that, as Morehouse men, you must stand against because they are the forces that move us away from seeing the humanity in others.”

In late April, it was announced that President Biden was invited by Morehouse to speak at the institution's Spring Commencement. Per NBC News, Morehouse extended the invitation for President Biden to speak at their commencement in September. However, there was considerable pushback to the appearance due to the administration's stance due to displeasure with his administration's handling of Israel's conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Last week, the faculty of Morehouse College voted to confer President Biden with an honorary degree with a vote of 50-38.

In his remarks, Biden made several significant comments. He addressed the protests of his appearance due to his administration's handling of Israel's conflict with Hamas in Gaza, calling for a ceasefire.

“In a democracy, we debate and dissent about America’s role in the world. I want to say this very clearly. I support peaceful, nonviolent protest. Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them…What’s happening in Gaza and Israel is heartbreaking. Hamas’s vicious attack on Israel, killing innocent lives and holding people hostage…That’s why I’ve called for an immediate ceasefire — an immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting, bring the hostages home. And I’ve been working on a deal as we speak, working around the clock to lead an international effort to get more aid into Gaza, rebuild Gaza.

He continued, “I’m also working around the clock for more than just one ceasefire. I’m working to bring the region together. I’m working to build a lasting, durable peace. Because the question is, as you see what’s going on in Israel today: What after? What after Hamas? What happens then? What happens in Gaza? What rights do the Palestinian people have? I’m working to make sure we finally get a two-state solution — the only solution — (applause) — for two people to live in peace, security, and dignity. This is one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world. And there’s nothing easy about it. I know it angered and frustrates many of you, including my family. But most of all, I know it breaks your heart. It breaks mine as well.”

He then tied his remarks on the ongoing conflict to a broader conversation about the importance of sound leadership.

“Leadership is about fighting through the most intractable problems. It’s about challenging anger, frustration, and heartbreak to find a solution. It’s about doing what you believe is right, even when it’s hard and lonely. You’re all future leaders, every one of you graduating today. And that’s not hyperbole. You’re future leaders, all of you. You’ll face complicated, tough moments. In these moments, you’ll listen to others, but you’ll have to decide, guided by knowledge, conviction, principle, and your own moral compass.

He further unveiled unprecedented funding for HBCUs during his tenure, the largest in history.

“And I — in addition to the original $7 billion investment in HBCUs, I’m investing 16 billion more dollars, more in our history, because you’re vital to our nation. Most HBCUs don’t have the endowments. The jobs of the future require sophisticated laboratories, sophisticated opportunity on campus. We’re opening doors so you can walk into a life of generational wealth, to be providers and leaders for your families and communities. Today, record numbers of Black Americans have jobs, health insurance, and more [wealth] than ever.”