In her call for national unity at Brown University that began on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not shy away from hot politics.
California Democrat and first woman to convert 15 years ago warns of efforts to attack abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, and supporters of the January 6 insurgency , democracy.
“You’re graduating into a very different world from the first time you walked through the gates of Van Wickle,” he said, first looking at the ongoing war in Ukraine. “In fact, our own nation is no stranger to dark, anti-democratic forces. On January 6, 2021, an unprecedented uprising unleashed unimaginable violence on the grounds and halls of the Capitol, a strike at the heart of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power “.
“In the months since the uprising we have seen more attacks on democracy, shameful campaigns to suppress voters and annul elections, a Supreme Court has set out to overturn women’s right to decide and threatening more rights to privacy, including marital equality. We can’t let that happen. ”
Pelosi was one of nine people to receive Brown honorary degrees this weekend from Ivy League University and the only elected official.
Brown does not often choose politicians as starting speakers.
The late Democratic MP John Lewis received an honorary degree and addressed the graduates in 2018, but Brown’s staff could not immediately say who was the last elected official before Lewis.
Pelosi shouted at the Democratic delegation to the Rhode Island Congress and former Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, who is now the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
Of the current government office holders, the graduates applauded the U.S. Treasury Secretary and Brown graduate Janet Yellen the loudest.
Pelosi has a connection to Rhode Island as well as being honored by Brown.
Her grandparents met in Pawtucket and one of her closest friends was Providence resident Martha Dodd Buonanno, the mother of Rhode Island candidate for governor Helena Buonanno Foulkes.
Pelosi, 82, mixed politics on Sunday with a more standard starting rate, inviting newly-minted graduates to use their Brown premium education to change the world.
Former head of the RI Department of Health:Nicole Alexander-Scott speaks at Brown University
“We have hope in America. We have hope in young people,” he said. “It’s your future. You have to take responsibility for it.”
He hailed the arts and imagination for uniting people through empathy.
“I think there is hope in the arts because I think they are unifying for our country,” Pelosi said. “When we experience the arts, we laugh together, we cry together, we are inspired together. We reject our differences. I think the arts are a path to unity in our country.”
And he celebrated activism.
“It’s no secret that you graduate from a deeply divided country, socially, politically, culturally and there [are] even more dangerous factions that seek to do without democracy altogether, “he said.” When the tragedy got stuck in your time here, you didn’t die. You sacrificed yourself to protect your community from the virus. You embraced with open arms students from Afghanistan and Ukraine. In your generation we see leaders without fear of taking the torch, marching through our lives, demanding action against armed violence, sounding the alarm about the climate crisis: science, science, science. “
In addition to Pelosi, Brown awarded honorary titles on Sunday to former Rhode Island health director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, public health leader Dr. Seth Berkley, economist Guido Imbens, filmmaker Stanley Nelson. reggae singer Shaggy, sociologist Zeynep Tüfekçi and donors Alice and Tomás Tisch.
While Pelosi was in Rhode Island, her husband Paul Pelosi was arrested in Napa, California and charged with drunk driving, according to media reports.