ICYMI: Senator Reverend Warnock Caps Off Southern HBCU Commencement Tour Uplifting Historic Investments Secured for Nation’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities

Earlier this month, Senator Reverend Warnock delivered commencement speeches at Georgia’s Albany State University, Tennessee State University

On Sunday, Senator Reverend Warnock concluded his commencement tour at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina

Senator Reverend Warnock is a 1991 graduate of Morehouse College and one of two sitting U.S. Senators to graduate from an HBCU

Senator Reverend Warnock has secured $267 million for Georgia’s HBCUs to date, part of $16 billion in federal investments delivered to HBCUs since 2021 and championed by the Senator

The Senator has also championed meaningful student debt cancellation, successfully pushing the Biden Administration to relieve $167 billion for 4.75 million borrowers, and counting

Above: Senator Reverend Warnock during the Commencement speech at Albany State University

Washington, D.C. – On Sunday, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) delivered the commencement address for the Class of 2024 at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. The speech concluded his Southern HBCU Commencement Tour, which included commencement addresses at Tennessee State University and Georgia’s Albany State University earlier in the month. Each institution is renowned for its rich history, academic excellence, and commitment to fostering Black leadership across industries. 

During all three commencement ceremonies, Senator Warnock, an alum of Atlanta’s Morehouse College, urged the graduates to use their voices to be catalysts for change and to use their education to address challenges and lead in their communities. Additionally, the Senator highlighted the important role of HBCUs in helping shape the next generation of changemakers, and he also highlighted his work to successfully secure $267 million in federal funding for Georgia’s HBCUs, part of $16 billion in investments the federal government has delivered to HBCU campuses throughout the nation since Warnock came to the Senate Lastly, the Senator also amplified the positive impact of meaningful student debt cancellation in his remarks to the Class of 2024, touting how he successfully pushed the Biden Administration to provide nearly $167 billion and counting in student debt cancellation for 4.75 million Americans to date.

[Watch video of Senator Reverend Warnock’s 2024 commencement speeches HEREHERE, and HERE]

Read below key excerpts from media coverage of Senator Reverend Warnock’s Southern HBCU Commencement Tour:

WALB: U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock speaks at Albany State University commencement ceremony

May 4, 2024

  • This graduation is special for this class and the university because four years ago as the graduating class was entering into college, the COVID-19 pandemic altered life as we knew it. This year’s commencement speaker was United States Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
  • ”We educate ourselves to prepare to serve others. To reach back, to reach down, to pull others up, and I hope that something in my message today inspired those young people to do this. When I was sitting where they were sitting, I had no idea that one day I’d be a United States Senator, and as a result of my election we have invested some $7 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, we’ve done about $160 billion in student debt relief. You know what that does? It closes the racial wealth gap,” Warnock said.

The Tennessee Tribune: Senator Raphael Warnock Headlines TSU’s Spring Commencement

May 4, 2024

  • Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock headlined Tennessee State University’s Spring commencement on Friday. President Dr. Glenda Glover delivered the keynote address to the undergraduates on Saturday.

Q City Metro: JCSU celebrates 151st commencement ceremony in Charlotte

May 19, 2024

  • Georgia Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock gave the keynote address at the ceremony and reminded student that they could be “anything” they wanted to be.

Albany Herald: Warnock gives commencement address as Albany State graduates 800-plus

May 6, 2024

  • The venerable arena was filled to the rafters as parents, relatives, family, and friends came to see their graduate receive his or her diploma and to hear U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock kick off his “Southern HBCU Commencement Tour.”
  • “HBCUs have long punched way above their weight,” Warnock said in a press release sent prior to Saturday’s ceremony. During May, in addition to ASU’s commencement, Warnock, a member of Morehouse College’s graduating Class of 1991, making him one of two sitting U.S. Senators who graduated from HBCUs, will speak at two other Southern HBCUs to “urge the Class of 2024 to use their voices to uplift the importance of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.”
  • In his position as a Georgia senator, Warnock has secured $267 million for Georgia’s HBCUs to date, and more than $7 billion in total for HBCU campuses across the country.
  • “HBCUs play a vital role helping shape the next generation of leaders our country needs, and as one of two HBCU alums serving in the U.S. Senate, I will continue working to build on the $7 billion we have secured in federal investments for these institutions to continue expanding and innovating their transformational work,” Warnock said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to address the graduating classes of Albany State, Tennessee State and Johnson C. Smith Universities.
  • “The Class of 2024 is entering the workforce or pursuing their chosen endeavors in a moment where many express uncertainties over the future for themselves and the world at large. I believe public servants play an important role in extolling a message of hope and vision of possibility that inspires more of us to take up the hard work required to make the change we wish to see.”
  • Warnock is a Head Start and Upward Bound alum and was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s teachings to matriculate to Atlanta’s historic Morehouse College — using Pell Grants and low-interest student loans to become the first in his family to graduate from college. Following his graduation from Morehouse, he went on to receive his master’s and doctorate degrees at the Union Theological Seminary.
  • Elected Georgia’s first black Senator in 2021, Warnock has been an ardent champion for education in the U.S. Senate. He has actively worked to bolster K-12 and higher education in Georgia and across the country. The senator introduced legislation, the HEADWAY Act, to expand access to early learning, and helped pass the American Rescue Plan, which made significant investments in the nation’s K-12 schools.

The Tennessee Tribune: Family’s Legacy a part of Commencement

April 25, 2024

  • United States Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and President Glenda Glover will be taking the stage as the keynote speakers for the 2024 Spring Commencement ceremonies. Senator Warnock will address graduate students on Friday, May 3, at the Gentry Center Complex.