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‘Free Those Still In Bondage’: Charlamagne Tha God Encourages Graduates to Help the Black Community with Commencement Speech at South Carolina State University

Charlamagne Tha God received praise for the commencement speech he delivered to his mother Julie Ford McKelvey’s alma mater South Carolina State University. McKelvey, who graduated from the HBCU in 1975, was in attendance as she celebrated the radio personality receiving an Honorary Doctorate during Mother’s Day weekend.

Charlamagne captioned his May 9 upload of the event: “Couldn’t ask for a greater Mother’s Day weekend….Giving the commencement speech at my mothers alma mater on Mothers Day Weekend while she’s alive to see it was surreal. Thank You God for engineering my life and Thank You @scstate1896 for the opportunity. It was an honor and a privilege!!!!” 

Charlamagne Tha God’s commencement speech during Mother’s Day weekend left many in awe after he encouraged graduates to help out the Black community. @cthagod/Instagram

But what essentially captured people’s attention was the 42-year-old encouraging the graduating class to give back to the Black community. He started by telling them on mark 10:48 how necessary they are.

“That’s why I feel God has me here today, to tell you each and every one of you that you are necessary,” he said. “The reason you’re necessary is because of the certification that you have worked for and the certification that you have earned. The certification that you are leaving here with today it is equipping you to go out into the world and serve. Not just serve everybody, though. But to serve us. Us being black people.”

“The Breakfast Club” co-host added that the reason why “HBCU graduates and their contributions are absolutely necessary” is because he considers them to be the change that the Black community was “waiting” for. 

He said as he referenced Gandhi, the leader of India’s peaceful independence protest against British rule, “I see the change the Black community has been waiting on. Gandi said, ‘Be the change you wanna see in the world.’ Well, guess what, y’all them steppers, bruh. Big steppers. Each and every one of you has to be intentional about stepping out into this world and continue the process of making something of yourselves so that you can pull back into the community that has poured into you.” 

Charlamagne wrapped up that part of his speech by advising the graduating class to be like one of his inspirations, Denmark Vesey. Vesey was a freed slave who attempted to lead in Charleston, South Carolina, what could have been the largest slave revolt in the United States, with as many as 9,000 African-Americans involved, but his 1822 plot was uncovered before it could be executed. The plan was to kill the slaveholders, free the slaves, and sail from Charleston to refuge in Haiti. 

Charlamagne likened people in the communities the graduates came from as being slaves as he exhorted, “That’s why I say everyone here is necessary, because y’all have to have the spirit of Denmark Vesey in you, and when you go into the world with your degree, and you get into these spaces, you have to take what you have learned and will learn to the communities you come from and free those still in bondage.”

Many people applauded him for bringing awareness to what matters.

“Charla, this was sooo good. I’m proud of you! You are definitely essentially to the culture and most definitely necessary 🙌🏾💫.”

“BRAVO!! What a GREAT Speech!”

“Good stuff bro , you’re an inspiration to black folks keep doing wat you’re doing 🔥🔥🔥🔥.”

The South Carolina native got his start as a radio intern in his home state until he left in 2006 to work with Wendy Williams on her radio show. After being fired from her show in 2008, Charlamagne worked at 100.3 The Beat in Philadelphia until he was fired in 2009 after airing an interview with rapper Beanie Sigel, who at the time released a diss track about Jay-Z. Although the reason behind Charlamagne’s firing was never confirmed, it allegedly was because of Jay-Z. The radio personality went on to join “The Breakfast Club” in 2010 alongside co-hosts DJ Envy and Angela Yee, which is still currently on the air and is being syndicated on Revolt.

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