Though their styles were different, Harvard President Drew Faust and Civil Rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis on Thursday delivered equally powerful messages to the Class of 2018 on the importance of truth, justice, and equality at a time when those values have come under assault in some corners of the country and the world.
Speaking at Afternoon Exercises of Harvard’s 367th Commencement, Lewis repeatedly called on graduates to assume leadership roles in a world that needs them, while Faust noted that this year it wasn’t just the speakers on stage urging students to get to work. The graduates themselves see the challenges before them, she said.
“Never has the world needed these graduates more, and I think they understand that,” Faust said, sharing observations from a recent lunch with seniors.
“They described how their attitudes and plans had altered because of these changed circumstances. They no longer took their world for granted. The future of our society, our country, our planet could not be guaranteed; it was up to them.
“Their careers and life goals had shifted to embrace a much broader sense of responsibility, extending beyond themselves to encompass an obligation to a common good they had come to recognize might not survive without them.”
Faust and Lewis delivered their remarks at Tercentenary Theatre during the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.