Rev. Jesse Jackson Delivers Speech at UMES - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Rev. Jesse Jackson Delivers Speech at UMES

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday delivered a Founders' Day and Summer Commencement address at UMES in Princess Anne. (Photo: WBOC) The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday delivered a Founders' Day and Summer Commencement address at UMES in Princess Anne. (Photo: WBOC)

PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday delivered a Founders' Day and Summer Commencement address at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne.

Before the civil rights icon, who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., took the podium, 29 graduates from the Department of Physical Therapy marched into the packed William P. Hytche Athletic Center for the highly anticipated ceremony.

Shortly after, the UMES Concert Choir sang what is often referred to as the Black American National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," recognizing the university's 129th Annual Founders' Day which coincides with the annual summer commencement.

Jackson, who ran for president twice in the 1980s, was the keynote speaker. 

A strong proponent of education and equal opportunities for everyone, Jackson said in his address, "Education must not be a commodity for a few, it must be an opportunity for all."

Jackson also spoke a great deal about the need to improve economic opportunities for African Americans and the poor. He touched on health care and spoke in depth about police brutality and mistrust in the community.

"Police and community relations are deteriorating from mutual respect to mutual disregard," Jackson said. "We must go another way and be more civilized." 

WBOC caught up with Jackson after the ceremony. He explained how this can be done. 

"There must be renewed commitment to rebuild the trust, but you have to earn it; it cannot be bestowed," Jackson said.

Graduates at the ceremony were moved by his acknowledgment of societal issues and the message of hope that followed it.

"It was amazing, it stuck to all of us," said Gregory Morgan Jr., who received his doctoral degree Thursday. " He was very powerful."

"I feel like what he did was great, we just have to keep talking about it until issues are resolved," said Devon Wilkie, who also graduated from the department. 

Jackson's 92-year-old mother passed away Monday night. The university started the Helen Burns Jackson Scholarship Fund in her honor. Two students, one from the gospel choir and another from the concert choir, will receive the award. 

Two UMES administrators made donations to start the two funds.

Jackson will announce the scholarship effort at his mother's upcoming funeral.

Before he wrapped up his speech at the ceremony, he wanted graduates to remember one thing, if nothing else: "Where there is hope, there is infinite possibilities." 
 

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