Denzel Washington’s Dillard University Declaration vs. Michelle Obama’s Tuskegee Attack.
Addressing graduates at two different universities Denzel Washington and Michelle Obama gave very difference messages. The hugely successful black male celebrity had a word of advice for those who would otherwise be influenced by racially-obsessed firebrands.
According to this particular African-American superstar actor, the key to success isn’t forcing equality, killing cops, being a beneficiary of quotas, or political retribution – it is putting God first. Denzel assumed an attitude of thankfulness and humility by telling graduates that if one “puts God first,” success will follow. Washington didn’t talk about bias, prejudice, racism or color. Instead, Denzel Washington chose to discuss how everything he’s accomplished is due solely to the “grace of God.”
While the first African-American first lady was busy recounting for Tuskegee grads every personal affront, African-American megastar Denzel – after receiving an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters at the ceremony – told the group to “Put God first in everything you do.”
Michelle Obama’s Tuskegee comments exuded an attitude of racial entitlement mixed with tangible resentment. By contrast, Denzel told the following story:
“When I was young and started really making it as an actor, I came and talked to my mother and said, ‘Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.’ “
Mama Washington reprimanded her son:
“Oh, you did it all by yourself? I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself: Go outside and get a mop and bucket and clean these windows – you can do that by yourself, superstar.
She said, ‘Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there, stop it right there! She said, ‘If you only knew how many people been praying for you.’ How many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer talks she gave, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind.”
Instead of blaming perceived wrongs for what he didn’t have or what wasn’t bestowed on him because of his skin color, Washington acknowledged those in the audience like his mother who sacrificed much so that the graduates could accomplish their academic goals:
“So, I’m saying that because I want to congratulate all the parents and friends and family and aunties and uncles and grandmother and grandfathers, all the people that helped you get to where you are today.”
Unlike Mrs. Obama’s Tuskegee tirade, the Denzel-delivered Dillard commencement speech had none of the bitterness, animosity, or warnings about the impending hardships of being black in America that were so prominent in Michelle Obama’s remarks.
Instead, Denzel Washington told the graduates:
“Everything you think you see in me, everything I’ve accomplished, and everything you think I have – and I have a few things. Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift.”
And so, if some disgruntled black Americans are looking for an alternative example of how success is attained, maybe instead of firebombing minority-owned businesses, shooting young police officers in the head, or buying into Michelle Obama’s Tuskegee vitriol, how about listening to Denzel’s sound advice and “put God first?”