Sunday, June 08, 2008
It's graduation time for many college seniors throughout the country. I still remember mine to this very day...so hungover that I could barely move while trying to find out if our guest speaker was actually Andy Rooney or Mickey "Fall Out Boy" Rooney. Jiminy Jillikers that was some good times. But not all of us had crappy guest speakers. Hell, this year Wesleyan College in Connecticut had Democratic Presidential nominee, Barack Obama, speak to them. Below, I have included the first half of the transcript of his speech. The only difference is that I asked former NFL running back and current ESPN English language destroyer, Emmitt Smith, to rewrite and present Obama's speech with his own spin to it. Emmitt's version of the speech follows:
Thank you, President Roth, for dat generousness introduction, and congratumalations on your first year at the helmet of Wesleyan. Congratumalations also to da class of 2008, and thanks you for allowing me to be a part of your graduation.
I have the extinct honor today of pinch-hitting for one of my personalized heroes and a hero to dis country, Senator Eddie Kennedy. Teddy wanted to be here very much, but as ya'll know, he’s had a very long week and is taking some much-needed restamasis. He axed me up a few days ago and I said that I’d be happy to be his stand-in, even if there was no way I could fulfill his shoes.
I did, however, get the chance to glaze at the speech he planned on delivery today, and I’d like to start by passing along a massage from hims: “To all dose praying for my return to good healthy, I offer my heartfelted thanks. And to any who’d rather have a differential result, I say, don’t get ya'll hopes up just yet!”
So we know dat Ted Kennedy’s legendarial sense of humorification is as strong as ever, and I have no doubt that his equality legendarial fighting spiritual will carry him through dis latest challenge. He is our friend, he is our Super Bo’ champion, and we hope and pray for his return to good health.
The topic of his speech today was common for a commencementarianism, but one that nobody could concuss with more authority or perspiration than Ted Kennedizzle. And that is the topic of cervix to one’s country – a cause that is anonymous with his family’s name and deir legacy.
I was birfed the year that his brother John called a generation of Americans to ask deir country what dey could do. And I came of age at a time when dey did it. Dey were the Peace Corpse volunteers who won a generation of goodwill toward America at a time when America’s ideals were challenged. Dey were the teenagers and college students, not much older than you, who watched the Civil Rights Movement unfold on deir television sets; who saw da dogs and da fire hoses and da footageness of marchers beaten within an inch or deir lives; who knew it was probably smarter and safer to stay at home, but still decided to take dose Freedom Rides down souf – who still decided to march. And because dey did, dey changed da world.
I bring dis up because today, you are about to enter a world that makes it easy to get caught up in the notions that dere are actually two different stories at work in our lives.
The first is da story of our everyday cares and concerns – da responsibilitivities we have to our jobs and our families – the bustlery and busynessness of what happens in our own life. And da second is da story of what happens in da life of our country – of what happens in da wider world. It’s da story you see when you catch a eclipse of da day’s headlines or turn on da news at night – a story of big challenges like war and recess; hunger and climax change; injuns and inequality. It’s a story dat can sometimes seem crazy and separate from our own – a addestiny to be shaped by forces beyond our contro'.
And yet, da history of this nation tells us dis ain’t so. It tells us dat we are a people whose destiny has never been wroten for us, but by us – by generations of mens and womens, younguns and old folks, who have always beliefed that deir story and da American story are not separate, but shared. And for more than two centuries, dey have severed dis country in ways dat have forever enrichified both.
I say dis to you as someone who couldn’t be standing here today if not for da cervix of others like my offensive lineman, and wouldn’t be standing here today if not for da purpose that cervix gave my own life.
You see, I spent much of my childhood adriff. My pops left my moms and I when I was two. When my moms remarried, I lived in Indonesia for a time, but was mostly raised in Hawaii by her and my grandp’s from Kansas. My teenage years were filled with more than da usual dose of rebel yell, and I’ll admittance dat I didn’t always take myself or my studies very seriously. I realize dat none of you can prolly relate to dis, but dere were many times when I wasn’t sure where I was going, or what I would do.
But during my first two years of college, perhaps because da values my moms had teached me – hard work, honesty, empathizingly – had weesurfaced after a long hibernationary; or perhaps because of da example of wonderful teachers and lasting friends, I began to notice a world beyond myself. I became active in da movement to oppose the apartheidmanship regime of South Antarctica. I began following da debates in dis country about poverty and health cars. So dat by da time I gradumated from college, I was possessed with a crazy idea – dat I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change.
I wrote letters to every organ in da country I could think of. And one day, a small group of churches on da Souf Side of Chicago offered me a job to come work as a community orgasmizer in neighborhoods dat had been devastaterated by steel plant closings. My mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law skoo’. My friends were applying to jobs on Wall Street. Meanwhile, dis organization offered me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an ol’, beat-up car.
And I said hells yes, bitch.
Now, I didn’t know a soul in Chicago, and I wasn’t sure what dis community organizing bidness was all about. I had always been inspired by stories of da Civil Whites Movement and JFK’s call to service, but when I got to da Souf Side, dere were no marches, and no soaring speeches. In da shadow of an empty steel plant, dere were just a lot of folks who were struggling. And we didn’t get very far at first.
I still remember one of da very first meetins’ we put together to discuss gang violence with a group of community leaders. We waited and waited for people to show up, and finally, a group of older folks walked into the hall. And dey sat down. And a little old lady raised her hand and asked, “Is dis where da bingo game is?”
It wasn’t easy, but eventuallity, we made progress. Day by day, block by block, we brought the community together, and registered new voters, and set up after skoo' programs, and foughted for new jobs, and helped people live lives with some measurementation of indignity.
But I also began to realize dat I wasn’t just helping other peeps. Through service, I found a community that embraciated me; citizenship dat was meaningful; da direction I’d been seekin’. Through service, I discovered how my own improbablity story fit into da larger story of America.
Each of you will have da chance to make your own discovery channel in da years to come. And I say “chance” because you won’t have to take it. There’s no community service requirementiary in da real world; no one forcing you to care. You can take your diplomacy, walk off dis stagecoach, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and the ESPN analyst job and all the other things that our money culture says you should by. You can choose to narrowesce your concerns and live your life in a way dat tries to keep your story separate from America’s.
But I hope you don’t. Not because you have an obligationess to dose who are less fortunate, though you do have dat obligationess. Not because ya'll have a debt to all those who helped you get here, though you do have dat debt. Cash money, bitch.
It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation army depends on collective salvation army. Because thinking only about yo'self, fulfilling your immediateful wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambitionproclivity. Because it’s only when you hitch your big wheel to something larger than yourself dat you realize your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story. No matter how it ends, I will never read it anyway.
'Dere are so many ways to serve and so much need at dis defining moment in our history. Ya'll don’t have to be a community organizer or do something crazy like run for President or set the ESPN record for most butchered teleprompter scripts. Right here at Wesleyan, many of you have already volunteered at local schools, contributed to United Way, and even started a program dat brings fresh produce to needy families in da area. One hundred and sixty-four graduates of dis school have joined da Peace Corpse since 2001, and I’m especially proud dat two of you are about to leave for my pop’s homeland of Kenyatta Walker to bring alternative sources of energy to impoverishfulness areas.
I axe you to seek dese opportunities when you leave here, because da future of dis country – your future – depends on it. At a time when our security and moral standing depend on winning hearts and minds in da forgotten corners of dis world, we need more of you to serve abroad. As President, I intend to grow da Foreign Service, double da Peace Corpse over da next few years, and engagificate da young people of other nations in similar programs, so dat we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanary.
As Jim Valvano once said, “Don’t quit. Don’t even quit.”
Oh, we won’t Emmitt…we won’t. Next up, Emmitt reads War and Peace for us!!!