From his commencement speech at the Booker T. Washington here in Memphis:
Yes, you’re from South Memphis. Yes, you’ve always been underdogs. No one has handed you a thing. But that also means that whatever you accomplish in your lives, you’ll have earned it. Whatever rewards and joys you reap, you’ll appreciate them that much more because they will have come through your sweat and tears; the product of your efforts and talents. You’ve shown more grit and determination in your childhoods than a lot of adults ever will.
That’s who you are.
So, Class of 2011, the hard road doesn’t end here; your journeys have just begun. And your diploma isn’t a free pass – it can’t protect you against every setback or challenge or mistake. You’ve got to keep working hard. You’ve got to keep pushing yourselves. But if you do, I am confident about your futures. I am hopeful and excited about all that you can achieve. And I know that, armed with the skills and experiences you’ve gained at Booker T. Washington High School, you are ready to make your mark on the world.