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Obama: Praises Beyoncé, Shonda Rhimes in Howard University commencement speech

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President Barack Obama was a guest of Howard University, where he delivered the commencement speech for the Class of 2016 on Saturday. While remarking that inequality and racism still persist in our society, he cited Beyoncé, and Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes as examples of the nation’s progress. 

“A lot of folks didn’t even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback,” he said. “When I was a graduate, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. Rap and hip-hop were counter-culture. Now Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night and Beyoncé runs the world.”

“We’re producers, studio executives. We’re no longer small-business owners. We’re CEOs. We’re mayors, representatives,” he added, while some in the audience shouted “President.” “I’m not saying gaps do not persist,” he said. “Obviously, they do. Racism persists. Inequality persists.”

Later, he continued, “So make no mistake, Class of 2016. You’ve got plenty of work to do. But as complicated and intractable as these challenges may seem, the truth is your generation is better positioned than any before you to meet those challenges.” 

Watch Obama’s full commencement speech in the video above. 

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