Maryland Governor Wes Moore gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College graduation ceremony Sunday morning.

Moore, the only Black governor in the United States of America, was sworn in as the 63rd governor of Maryland on January 18. Moore, 44, was one of three men to be bestowed honorary doctorate degrees Sunday, along with the late National Basketball Association legend and Civil Rights era leader Bill Russell and Dr. Roderic Ivan Pettigrew, a Morehouse alum.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (above) gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College Sunday, May 21, 2003. Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor

“This is such a unique place with such a unique and beautiful history, name another place in the country where you have a graduation and there are more alumni than there are graduates themselves,” Moore said about the crowd that awaited him when he took the stage. “It really is setting a really powerful tone and message to all the graduates about the fraternity that they are entering into.”

Morehouse College President David A. Thomas upon presenting the honorary degree to Moore said of Moore, “He will go forth as a Morehouse man.” During the introduction of Moore, Thomas joked that in eight years when he calls Moore at the White House to come back to Morehouse to give a speech he “won’t say no.”

A husband and father of two, Moore has a godfather that graduated from Morehouse, Class of 1953, and said he believes there’s a common pride that all Morehouse men share.

“Soon, you will walk across this stage, and in that moment, each of you will go from being a man of Morehouse to being a Morehouse man,” he said. “Do not forget the rocks you are standing on men of Morehouse.”

Moore currently has an approval rating over 50%, according to a Goucher College survey from earlier this month. As he stood on the stage he spoke of the odds he was against when he decided to run for governor, and that he still faces as the only Black governor in this country.

“A few years ago, nobody would have believed that I could be elected governor of my state, ” Moore said. “And it wasn’t just because I was polling 1%…it’s because nobody thought that people who look like you and like me could lead Maryland.”

Moore talked about the hard days during his campaign and the many historic inspirations he continues to have as governor.

“Men of Morehouse I stand before you as the first Black governor of my state and only the third Black governor ever elected in our nation’s history with a single message: Our history is our power,” Moore said.

Other topics of his speech were book banning, the “muzzling” of educators and the importance of recognizing Black history in this country.

On the importance of learning and passing along Black history Moore, a Takoma Park, Maryland native and United States Army veteran told The Atlanta Voice, “Our history is our strength. If you understand where you come from, if you understand the shoulders that you’re standing on, if you understand, not just the struggles, but the sacrifices that people have made in order for you to be there, then nothing is impossible.”

On book banning he said, “When politicians ban books and muzzle educators, they say it’s an effort to prevent “discomfort and guilt” – but we know that’s not true.”

He added that there is a danger of book banning and the attempts to whitewash American history. “The thing that I wanted all Morehouse men to understand is embrace your history, learn it, defend it, cherish it, share it and be unapologetic about it, because if you understand your past you will get a better understanding of your path.”

The Morehouse College Class of 2023 has three valedictorians. Prior to Moore taking the stage, President Thomas said of the three valedictorians, “You are all examples of the excellence that is Morehouse College.”

During his speech Moore closed by saying, “Men of Morehouse, I need you to be lifelong learners and loyal ambassadors of your history. It is the only way ahead.

He continued, “Then, I need you to take your history and use it to make history of your own.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...