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tv   Spelman College Commencement Rosalind Gates Brewer  CSPAN  May 30, 2018 1:02am-1:28am EDT

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>> starbucks chief operating officer rosalind gates brewer delivered the commencement address at her alma mater spelman college in atlanta georgia. she spoke about her companies decision to have employees undergo why is training following the arrest of two black men at a philadelphia starbucks location. this is just over 20 minutes.
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[applause] rosalind: thank you. is such a joy to be here. ago, i was right where your at right this moment. i was filled with attitude and with knowledge and maybe a little anxiety. a lot of anxiety about what the future might bring. like you, i worked very hard during my four years at spelman college. but spelman taught me many things. it taught me how to put my head down and how to get the work done. commencement is a day of celebration. it is a day when you don't put
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your heads down, we lift them up. i want to share with you what i see, from where i am standing. i see all of these beautiful brown faces in flowing caps and gowns. behind you, i see a village. that was spread out across the world but has joined together for this momentous day. i see the proud faces of parents and grandparents, of guardians and aunties and uncles and cousins and friends. the people we call family. all these people who loved you persevered,d you, sacrificed, and prayed for you each and every day. village toys taken a graduate one of our own. .his too is your day
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it looks really good from where i'm standing. this is where we all need to be today. i want to thank resident campbell for her leadership and for the warm introduction she gave me. dr. campbell, you are a source of such inspiration for our entire's ellman -- entire spelman family. a quick story. when dr. campbell called me a few months ago, i secretly hoped she would ask me to speak this year. she began her call, she said ros, and she has a stern voice, i want this year's speaker to be profound, a woman of character and culture, a talented black woman who galvanizes many, someone who personifies the ball and clock arehip hallmarks of our college. i thought, here it comes, my
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invitation. as, beyonceys, but r just called and says she can't do it. i'm calling you. and come as your number two choice for graduation speaker this year, let me first say i am honored to be here even though. but let us gather. families come fellow trustees, and distinguished guests, ladies alpha, andppa especially my childhood friends, my college roommate, my loving sister sandra who came in from detroit. ,y husband of almost 30 years morehouse college class of 84.
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they are here to support me but they are here to support you to. join me in congratulating spellman last of 2018. [applause] rosalind: spelman women, you are today at an intersection of who you have then and who you must become. who you have been, and who you must become. full of hope and knowledge staring down the face of a daunting challenge. stronger than you have ever been and also learning with every breath. the generation of spelman women who came before me were all first of a kind. the first lack women, the first black judge.
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a real generation of wayne akers. -- generation of waymakers. my generation might be called generation p. the p is for perseverance. we have to keep the fires that are grandmothers had to fight and live for a live. we remember the pain our mothers and grandmothers went through to earn their place in society. we remember their stories of sentence and lunch counters, because they lifted. when we hear fresh stories, these recent tories, of essentially social injustice and legalized violence today, it hurts. it hurts twice as much. it hurts for the present and for the past. we have hugged and kissed those raved women who deserved so much more. they deserve or education when
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they couldn't get it, more respect and opportunity to fulfill her own ambitions. we soaked up their words and generation p, we soaked up their wisdom. we do that to this day. generation p, we carried the weight, suffering, and trauma of the generation of women who came for within us. yet, it is not a burden that drags you down, it is just the opposite. it allows you to fly. in the face of daunting odds, spelman women persevere. while i may have made this all looks so easy as you read my bio, many times i was actually handled the most undesirable assignments. the assignment everyone else did not want, or the one that management new i would
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absolutely a lot at. most times, i was counted out. i was counted out even for our was considered in. kick in.elman lessons keep yourd to myself head down, do the work must day on the plan. sometimes, i would even swallow my commentary. that was hard. but i have never held myself back. fly,no matter how high we we still hit the glass dome constructed by our biased culture. sadly, i am still just one of a handful of black female executives in corporate america and it is now 2018. we see each other. we embrace and sometimes we run and hug each other, but we are black women, still in a white, male world.
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the women of generation p have always had to show exceptional performance well in during sub optimal circumstances. we broke into the top ranks while enduring the indignities of being ourselves. when you are a black woman, you get mistaken a lot. you get mistaken as someone who could actually not have that top job. sometimes you are is taken for kitchen help. sometime people assume you are in the wrong place. all i can think, in the back of my head, is no, you are in the wrong place. the wrong place, that sunken place is everywhere deep inside our culture. if there is a place where bias doesn't exist, i have not found it. i recall, shortly after i was named the of sam's club, i was ceoted to an exclusive
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roundtable in new york city. only 25 indicted -- 25 invited guest. reception i met a fellow ceo and i introduced myself, just like the boys club usually does. after exchanging pleasantries back and forth, he asked, what do i do at sam's club? whatught to myself, hmm, did the invitation say? he said to me, do you lead marketing? i said no, that is part of my organization. he said oh, merchandising? i was trulyt, puzzled. after i gave him the side eye, we approached the private room. i ascended to the podium as the keynote for the day and i enjoyed the look on his face when my bio was red. it was a good day.
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[applause] ago,ind: just a few years i was interviewed on cnn. i made an observation that ignited nothing short of a hell storm. i received death threats. my children's lives were threatened. my resignation was called for by people that didn't even know me. and here is what i said. that triggered such strong emotion. i said the simple line. diversity makes good business sense. [laughter] rosalind: the reaction that everybody else had, it shook me, because to me it was pretty unremarkable. it was a true statement. study after study has proven that diversity is connected to improved profitability, better
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engagement, and working conditions for all. yet, coming from one of the few myen in the c-ranks, comment supported a hellstorm. but it was a nasty reminder that every day people of color face systemic racism so blatant, so emboldened, and yet though normalized. [applause] so, if my generation is generation p for perseverance. then it follows that you are generation q, which could stand for many things. or quakes, you are, which i hope you start. , i wouldl the q words
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hope that you become generation quest. continue to seek out education and opportunity and influence and power and truth and that would he a glorious quest. what strikesest, me most today in the world in which you are coming of age, and i will put it all out there because her a few times i get to bring my head and heart to the same place every day. we have come to a place in this america where so much of our media is a source of entertainment. when you view the world through the lens of entertainment, it is hard to sort out what is really important and the serious issues involved with those issues. what truly makes a difference. i challenge each and every one of you of generation quest to
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look through a different lens proactively and often. i suspect that you will gain knowledge, hopefully the unfiltered kind, honest and pure in its form. that is true power. in the past couple of years, especially, we have seen an alarming rise in unashamed , xenophobia,gotry and misogyny. these are trying times absolutely. what gives me hope is you. the very graduates sitting before me. the young activists who have taken to the street and hardest technology to demand justice in unprecedented numbers. protesting is no longer just a weekend activity. i can guarantee you might recently graduated son calls his
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congressional representatives more than he calls me. [laughter] rosalind: students, especially those that hbcus are often by necessity at the forefront of advocating or social change. whether it is across race, gender, class, or sexuality. for decades, it has been students who drive historic change in our society. it is almost as if you are programmed to speak out. i think that is such a beautiful thing. i didn't tell that way when i was your 30 years ago. during your time at spelman, you spoke out about food insecurity, campus sexual assault, safety andthe lgbtqi a students worked with resident campell for a more just and equitable community. the world took note of spelman
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college. give yourself a round of applause because you did that. [applause] includes ahis class student who challenged the and i quo here at spelman am pleased the college stood by him. it is imperative we accept and support good people for who they are. the world needs people who are alive with hope and have the strength to fight for the underrepresented and disenfranchised. when she sees injustice in this pelman woman is not the kind to sit back and hope someone else will deal with it. we fight. we fight on and fight hard here to take it head on each and every day. movements and hashtag campaigns, like black lives #neveragainoo and give ordinary citizens the
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ability to show solidarity and bring out transformative social change. but it is not just enough to tweet. change requires action. a record number of women are currently running for office at both federal and date levels. among them, is a spelman grad abrams.rams -- stacy choose a businesswoman and author. -- i should say, and she is running right here for the governor of georgia. yes. [applause] if elected,lind: she will be the first woman to lead a state right from spelman college.
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you have got to love that. indeed, we are living in a new, golden age of american activism. so you can only imagine my horror when news carried across the web that in one of our stores, two black men had come in to meet a friend. the store manager called the police within minutes to remove them. these two men were arrested. they could have been harmed. they actually could have been killed. i havee past few weeks, looked closely into the facts of actually what happened. the twoet with businessmen. i have met with the former store manager. [applause] actually,all of them, have had their lives deeply
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impacted i what happened in that philadelphia starbucks, and as a black woman, as a mother of a myself, ad lack mail girl from detroit who challenges racism every day, so she has never had a choice -- as a mother of a 23-year-old black girl from detroit who challenges racism every day, over andcism over and over again in this country, i was mad. i was mad to have fought so hard for so long then to have to defend my company that i deeply admire, and i had to defend it to the african-american community that i profoundly love. unfoldedtion that resulted in treating two black men in a way that no black
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mother can except, no black leader can except, and no spelman woman would ever accept. [applause] rosalind: so here is the lesson, generation quest. when mistakes are made, and they will be made, how you react will determine who you are, and regardless if there is a company behind you or if you are standing alone, these mistakes fall on your shoulders, and he must act as you have been taught college.n stand up, take the will, and take charge. do not compromise who you are, ever. the incidents in philadelphia, it shined a light on a blind
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spot for us, and we saw it for what it was, a terrible decision in the words of our starbucks waffen, the teela to responsibility and do takeng, -- and too often, responsibility and do nothing else, but not on my watch. we are closing stores for racial bias training. brought in the president of the naacp and others, and we are going to make a difference. exclusive curriculum and will train more than 175,000 hope is thatd our this will make a difference beyond our stores. [applause] anyone who crosses the threshold of a starbucks café is a customer. i am proud to say that the
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withts of a settlement starbucks is true, as well as the city of philadelphia and a new high school program for influenced by those two young men. there is more good that will come from this incident. a tough 30 days. i sat with a lot of sadness, and at tough times of major challenge, i turned to reading poetry for solace, and verse helps. one is notu says necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue without consistency. we cannot be kind. we cannot be true, merciful, generous, or honest, and to maya i say, that is right, and when james baldwin says world is before you and you need to not
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take it or leave it as it is, make it different than when you came in, i say that is my whenng compass, and michelle obama says when they go low, we go high, i say, graduates, let's do that together. i have spent the last several months about what challenge will sisters uponan leaving college, and this is it. use your voice. into you to drive change. get yourself into situations where you can encourage government to stop spreading hatred and fear and instead spread inclusiveness and welcome. education to organize. you have a theater arts degree? dramaticcomedic or skills -- use your skills.
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whenall a time in my life that is what i did, but never again. sometimes we use our voices to say we made a mistake, and we are going to correct it, and sometimes we use our voices by saying we belong here. get used to us. [applause] starbucksyou know, does not just happen. you have to stay deep in the movement. you have to be your own jury and conda right here, right now. so to the class of 2018, i say again, congratulations, and i am so very proud of you. thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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announcer: nikki haley, u.s. ambassador to the united nations and former south carolina governor, delivered the commencement address at her old alma mater, clemson university. she spoke about living and active life of attitude. this is just under 15 minutes. living a life of active gratitude. you, presidentk clements. it is a great day at clemson university, and it is a great day in south carolina. congratulations to the college of business and the college of education class of 2018, and thank you for thiszi

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