Commencements mark the beginning of something new. Today, Baruch College celebrated its virtual Commencement. We are excited to know you will be a part of the change you want to see in this world, and we celebrate your excellence as well as your accomplishments to come! Here are Professor Arthur Lewin’s remarks from Baruch College’s Black Graduation Celebration:
“They say seeing is believing But sometimes things are completely opposite of the way they seem to be. For example, some of you may be thinking, “How terribly unlucky I am to graduate at a time when my classmates and I cannot enjoy a real in-person rousing celebration.” Ahhh! But I happen to believe just the opposite is true. You are extremely fortunate. You are graduating at a time, in fact, at the very precise moment, when society is on the verge of graduating to a new, higher conception of itself.
This is the year 2020, and just like the numbers say, society now, right now, can see clearly with 20 – 20 vision, what racial division and inequality are doing to us.
We are dealing with two viruses, the COVID-19 virus and the viral contagion that is racism. And dealing with the first virus, and seeing how precious each and every life is, and witnessing the heroic action of our first responders and our Transit Authority workers and our grocery store workers and all the others who have enabled us to hunker down and quarantine, has led us to say, “If they can put their lives on the line for us, what can I do, in some small way to end the killing virus of racism that’s plagued us for 400 years?”
Yes, society now has achieved 2020 vision with regard to racism. But to see and to act are not one and the same.
So, yes, you are graduating without a graduation in which you sit around and joke while the folks up on stage endlessly prattle in their last opportunity to keep you confined to your seats.
No, you are graduating into a world in which you are called to, not just be satisfied with a lucrative 9 to 5. You are called to, not just be satisfied with throwing your hard earned money away own on expensive, useless items to impress people who are doing the same thing to impress you.
No, you are called to step into the world as educated young women and educated young men in the heart of the most important city in the most influential nation on earth. Yes, you are called to step out into the world and lead it to that new higher conception of itself.
Go forth and start now! Graduates, commence your great work and make us proud!”