Morehouse restores Obama critic’s graduation speaking role

 

Morehouse National Alumni Association (Credit: www.facebook.com) Morehouse National Alumni Association (Credit: www.facebook.com)

Morehouse College has decided to allow a critic of President Obama to deliver its baccalaureate sermon, a day before Obama will offer the commencement speech there Sunday.

The prominent, historically black men’s college in Atlanta has spent the last month struggling with what role Bright Hope Baptist Church senior pastor Kevin Johnson should play in this weekend's graduation ceremonies. Johnson has been invited earlier this year to be the baccalaureate speaker on Saturday. But he sparked a controversy after he published an opinion piece last month questioning the lack of diversity in Obama’s second-term Cabinet.

“The focus of Commencement weekend should be on the graduates, their families and the historic visit by the President of the United States,” said Morehouse College President John S. Wilson in a statement. “There is no better way to honor that priority than to have a distinguished alumnus give the Baccalaureate sermon, and two recent alumni offer Baccalaureate Hermeneutics to the graduating class.”

Wilson, who headed the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities before assuming his academic job in January, initially changed the baccalaureate address format to a three-speaker panel, after Johnson, who is African American, published a piece in the April 14 edition of the Philadelphia Tribune titled, “A President for Everyone, Except Black People.” The essay suggested that Bill Clinton — and to a lesser extent, George W. Bush — had done more to help African Americans as president than Obama.

Under the new format, the two Morehouse alumni who will offer textual interpretations on Saturday to the graduating class are the Rev. Anthony Mark Miller ’11 and Olusesgun “Segun”Abayomi Idowu ’12. Miller is the Chief Executive Officer of Giant Steps Leadership Academy, while Idowu is pursuing a master's degree in divinity from the Boston University School of Theology..

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.

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