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Haynes Tells the Class of 2011 They Can Overcome the Seemingly Impossible


(May 14, 2011) -- Drawing inspiration from rapper Tupac Shakur’s poem “A Rose Out of Concrete,” the Rev. Frederick Douglas Haynes III told the class of 2011 during Baccalaureate service that the power of God will help them to achieve, despite statistics that say black men are struggling in this country.

“As [Tupac] was making his way through the heart of the hood in East Oakland and came across a rose, it was blossoming out of the sidewalk, out of the concrete,” Haynes said. “This rose should not have been. This rose was blossoming where it should not have been. It was an impossible situation, but the rose stood there declaring, ‘I’m going to blossom anyhow because what God put in me is greater than the concrete slab that was above me.’

“So I say to every Morehouse brother, as you move across the stage tomorrow, there are some concrete circumstances trying to tell you what you cannot do. But if the God above you is within you, you can handle the concrete that comes at you.”

Haynes thrilled the capacity audience of 2,500 in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and an overflow crowd of 500 in the Bank of America Auditorium and the Executive Conference Center.

“The Baccalaureate service allows seniors to recognize spirituality as a fundamental enterprise in the liberal arts education,” said Lawrence E. Carter Sr., dean of the Chapel.

“Religion and faith play integral roles in adding meaningful depth to the human experience,” Carter said. “What you are, the world is. And without your transformation there can be no transformation of the world.”

Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, decried racism still present in America. But he said the power of good would overcome the negatives.

“Brothers, bear in mind that things can go wrong and things will go wrong,” Haynes said as the audience stood and cheered. “Circumstances will try to block you and they will try to hinder your hopes. But recognize the power is at work within you.”

The service was one of many events during the weekend, highlighted by Sunday’s Commencement service at 8 a.m. on the Century Campus when the 515 graduates receive their diplomas before nearly 10,000 people. Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree and journalist Gwen Ifill will deliver the commencement addresses.

Visit the Commencement website to view photos and video from the weekend.

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