Beyoncé has fans in high places. In a commencement speech to Howard University grads this Saturday, President Obama emphasized the societal effect of her work. “American is by almost every measure better than it was when I graduated from college,” he said, according to the Associated Press. One thing’s for sure: We have more Beyoncé albums.
“When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. Rap and hip-hop were counterculture, underground,” he said. “Now Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night and Beyoncé runs the world.”
“Today,” said President Obama, “we’re no longer entertainers. We’re producers, studio executives. No longer small-business owners, we’re CEOs. We’re mayors, representatives.” Someone in the crowd finished his thought by shouting out “President.”
“I’m not saying gaps do not persist. Obviously, they do,” he continued. “Racism persists, inequality persists. America needs you to gladly, happily take up that work… so enjoy the party, because you’re going to be busy.”
“I used to joke about being old. Now I realize I’m old. It’s not a joke anymore,” he said, realizing the Class of 2016 was in high school when he was elected president.
In addition to giving the commencement address, President Obama also received an honorary doctor of science degree from Howard. He is also scheduled to speak at the Rutgers University and the U.S. Air Force Academy graduations this year.