Lupe Fiasco’s Brutally Honest Graduation Speech

July 2, 2013  |  
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After commencement, most graduates can’t tell you what the speaker said. That won’t be the case for the students that graduated this Saturday in Chicago at a ceremony called “Mass Black Male Graduation and Transition to Manhood”. Rapper Lupe Fiasco had some shocking things to tell the young men as they got ready to go out into the world.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Fiasco said, “Congratulations, you have graduated from one of the most terrible, substandard school systems in the entire world. You have just spent the last . . . 12 years receiving one of the worst educations on earth. You are at least four, five steps behind people in other countries that are younger than you.” It’s true that black teens in the Chicago public school system are up against tough odds; only 39 percent graduate from high school.

From Chicago himself, Lupe was honest with his audience, telling the 150 students assembled that their journey was just beginning and that continuing to pursue manhood was their biggest task post-grad. He called their gaps and gowns “meaningless clothes” because the real task was a more personal one. On the subject of manhood, the rapper said, “for young black men . . . it is one the last things that we have . . . and one of the last things that we can control. Manhood is connected to humanity.” He also pledged to give $100 to each of the students in the room.

The students received Lupe’s keynote speech enthusiastically. What do you think of his remarks?


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