Georgia State political analyst on how Biden's Morehouse speech could affect election

Protesters near the campus of Morehouse College as President Joe Biden gave the school's commencement address on Sunday, May 19, 2024. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

President Joe Biden’s Morehouse College commencement speech on Sunday was both supported and condemned, as he spoke about his administration’s investments in HBCUs, relieving the burden of student debt, growing the economy and building generational wealth for African American families.

Biden then transitioned into calling for an immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting in the Israel-Hamas war and end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“In a democracy, we debate and dissent about America’s role in the world. I want to say this really clearly. I support peaceful, nonviolent protest. Your voices should be heard. And I promise you I hear them,” Biden told Morehouse students Sunday.

Protesters both marched outside the Morehouse campus and students also engaged in silent forms of protest during Biden’s speech — with some turning their backs on the president and raising the Palestinian flag.

It was the first moment Biden spoke directly to students since protests against the Israel-Hamas war broke out on college campuses nationwide.

The speech comes as Biden is trying to bolster support from voters of color and young voters ahead of November’s election.

Georgia State University’s Professor of Policy and Politics Tammy Greer joined WABE’s “Morning Edition” to recap how Biden’s speech hit with the Morehouse demographic and young voters of color.

Greer told WABE that Biden’s speech was also about the historical understanding of “what tends to happen when the complexity of foreign policy takes over the passions of the young people, who have the numbers to shift elections. If they are concerned and they don’t turn out, then there could be a huge shift in foreign policy and domestic policy based on that presidential year.”

Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.