Speaking at the Morehouse College, Billionaire and philanthropist Robert F Smith exuded empathy and kindness. “The degree you earn today is one of the most elite credentials that America has to offer. But I don’t want you to think about it as a document that hangs on the wall or reflects the accomplishments you’ve made up to now. That degree is a contract. It’s a social contract. It calls on you to devote your talents and energies to honouring those legends on whom shoulders both you and I stand,” he said.
Speaking on the black experience of America, he continued, “Getting a fleeting glimpse of opportunity and success just before the window is slammed shut. The cycle of resistance to oppression followed by legislation, followed by the weakening of that legislation, followed by more oppression and more resistance has affected and afflicted every single generation. And even as we’ve seen some of the major barriers come crashing down in recent years, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t acknowledge just how many of these injustices still persist.”
He added, Where you live shouldn’t determine where you get it whether or not you get educated. Where you go to school shouldn’t determine whether you get textbooks. The opportunity to access — the opportunity for access should be determined only by the fierceness of your intellect and the courage and your creativity, and should be fuelled by the grit that allows you to overcome expectations that weren’t set high enough.”
He went on to explicate a few rules he lives by like- “You need to know that nothing replaces actually doing the work…take thoughtful risks…always be intentional about the words you choose…is to always know that you are enough” and finally “take the responsibility to liberate others.”