BROOKLYN — Hillary Clinton, delivering Thursday's commencement address at a college named for a civil rights icon, urged graduates to “take a stand," remember that “the work of justice is never finished," and to vote.
The 2016 presidential candidate, without saying President Donald Trump's name, blasted his administration in her remarks to roughly 1,500 Medgar Evers College grads at the Barclays Center. She lamented the recent national uptick in hate crimes, attempts to roll back voting rights and condemned the Muslim travel ban.
“All of us must recommit ourselves to the urgent work of protecting the safety and civil rights of all of our people," she said, "not moving in the opposite direction, undoing the progress that we have made."
One student in particular got a shoutout in the speech from the former secretary of state: a graduate born in Yemen who had worked at a deli across from the Crown Heights CUNY school before enrolling.
“He made sandwiches for students and professors, and today he’s graduating with honors,” Clinton said. “I’m certainly glad he wasn’t banned from America.”
The speech was Clinton’s second at the college named for the assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers in a little over a year. As a candidate last year, she visited the school in the run-up to the New York primary.
At the time, she said that if asked, she would come back post-election to speak at graduation.
“Now, I wish I had flown in from the White House, but I’m just as happy to be here anyway,” she said with a laugh to open the speech.
The commencement address took place as many eyes were focused on Washington as James Comey, former FBI director, testified about Trump at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.
Clinton made no reference to the highly anticipated hearing, making only an oblique reference in recalling the history of the college, opened in 1970, amid “a period of tumultuous change in America,” she said.
“We were facing assassinations, political turmoil, investigations,” she said, with emphasis.
Her official Twitter account also gave something of wink to Comey as the hearing got underway, tweeting “Want to hear some good news?” with a link to the commencement speech just as he began to testify.
Want to hear some good news?— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 8, 2017
About to talk to soon-to-be graduates at Medgar Evers College Commencement. Tune in!https://t.co/8tuGmivn2y
Clinton’s speech was the second in Brooklyn this year featuring a candidate from the 2016 campaign.
Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders delivered an address to Brooklyn College’s 2017 graduating class, urging students to “help us create the nation that we all know we can become.”
Clinton gave a similar call to action, quoting from scripture in telling students, “Do not grow weary.”
“Do not lose heart," she added. "Make your mark in the world, and make your voices heard. Help us build that brighter future.”