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Commencement Addresses

Chadwick Boseman to Howard’s Class of 2018: ‘Take the harder way’

Below are excerpts and video of Chadwick Boseman’s commencement speech to Howard’s Class of 2018:

This is a magical place, a place where the dynamics of positives and negatives shift in extremes … Almost anything can happen here … Howard’s legacy is not wrapped up in the money that you will make, but in the challenges that you choose to confront. As you honor your past, press on with purpose.

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I remember walking across this yard when Muhammad Ali was walking towards me with his hands raised in a quintessential guard. I was game to play along with him. What an honor to be challenged by the GOAT [Muhammad Ali], the greatest of all time, for a brief moment … I walked away floating like a butterfly … He was transferring the spirit of the fighter to me. Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.

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Beyond the physical campus, “The Hilltop” [Howard] represents the culmination of the intellectual and spiritual journey you have undergone while you were here. You have been climbing this academic slope for at least three or four years. … Savor the taste of your triumphs today, don’t just swallow them all whole without digesting what is actually happening here. Look down over what you conquered and appreciate what God has brought you through.

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Everything that you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those who came after you.

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Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is and how you need to fight it. When I dared to challenge the systems that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents, when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me — a path to my destiny. When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it.

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[When] you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you need to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.

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I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that’s ultimately proven to have more victory, more glory, then you will not regret it. This is your time.

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