Bernie Sanders may be a longtime senator from Vermont, but he came back to his hometown Tuesday to deliver the keynote address at Brooklyn College’s 92nd graduation ceremony.
The former Democratic presidential candidate grew up in Flatbush, not far from Brooklyn College, which he attended for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago.
“These are tough times for our country … but I have enormous confidence in the future of our country,” Sanders began his address to the more than 4,100 graduates of the class of 2017 and thousands in attendance at the Barclays Center.
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Sanders’ keynote echoed not only past speeches he gave on the campaign trail but his general stance on the country, covering topics such as political corruption, the “broken” criminal justice system, women’s rights, class divide, costs of education and healthcare.
While he did blast some recent moves made by Republicans regarding healthcare and proposed budget cuts, Sanders did not mention anyone, including President Donald Trump, by name, but he didn’t really need to.
"We must never allow demagogues to divide us up by race or religion, by national origin or gender or sexual orientation," he said. "Black and whites, Latino, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, every religion … gay, straight, male or female – we must stand together. This country belongs to all of us.”
He said that it is “understandable” if people don’t want to get involved in changing the “rigged” system, “but it is unacceptable — you do not have the moral right to turn your back on saving this planet and future generations. … The only rational choice we have is to stand up and fight back and reclaim American democracy and create a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent. Think big, not small, and help us create the nation that we all know we can become.”
Due to his "groundbreaking career in politics, visionary approach to public policy and higher education, dedication to civic welfare and commitment to equality," Sanders received an honorary doctorate of human letters at Tuesday’s ceremony, the school said on its website.