Live from Music Row, Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelists Carol Swain and Crom Carmichael in studio to discuss Oprah Winfrey’s TSU commencement speech on Saturday.
Leahy: In studio, Carol Swain all-star panelist and the Senior Constitutional Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Good morning again, Carol.
Swain: Good morning.
Leahy: I have a question coming up for you. All right. And for Crom Carmichael, the original all-star panelist. Crom, are you guys ready for my question?
Carmichael: Yes. Yes.
Leahy: And I’m going to give you a little sound effect. So Oprah Winfrey who’s worth like $2 billion. Been very successful. Got her start here in Nashville. And Chris Clark, who was the CBS News anchor here, called her up when she was 19 years old and said, hey, come and read the news with me. And that was the beginning. She did great.
She’s worth a lot of money. She came back to Tennessee State University, her alma mater, and gave a commencement speech. I thought it was a very angry commencement speech, I thought. And so Carol, I’m going to play a clip from it, Crom, and then I’m going to ask, do you agree with me? Was Oprah angry? And what does she have to be angry about? So here we go. Here’s the close of Oprah Winfrey’s speech at Tennessee State University on Saturday.
(Oprah Winfrey clip plays)
The world is weaning itself off Russian fuel. Electric cars are going mainstream across the globe. That hole we punched in the ozone layer is healing. Ukraine is still in there fighting for us all. Finland joined NATO. COVID is currently receding and there are human beings who very quietly donate their bone marrow to strangers.
And this to me signals that the United States of America may not be united. But we are not a finished product. My point is anything is possible. The wheels are still in spin, saints walk among us, and as Nelson Mandela so brilliantly demonstrated, it’s better to be hopeful than fearful if for no other reason, than the fact that hope brings us one step closer to joy.
And I leave you with this. You have been prayed for and paid for. Not just tuition, but paid for through the sacrifices, through the daily aggressions. Through this discriminations, the locked doors, the back doors, the barriers broken down through the humiliations, working two and three jobs, just trying to make ends meet and getting you a little money so you can have something to spend in college.
Every family member from generations back who helped make this day possible, you owe them a rising. And your job is to come on up to the rising, to meet the rising of your life and know that your crown has been paid for. Put it on your head and wear it. Congratulations.
Leahy: Carol, that was the closing of Oprah Winfrey’s speech. Your reaction?
Swain: I have mixed emotions. For one thing, there’s a sadness and there’s also, it’s the clip starts off where you picked up on it with democratic propaganda about their agenda. And it’s to motivate the students to activism. So it’s setting the stage for 2024 and it’s misinformed in places.
But to me, it’s more political than anything else. And the gloom and doom that she feels a need to paint. I find that true of many elites, not just black elites, I think they have guilt and because they have so much guilt about what they have, then they try to make other people feel angry at society. They won’t tell you the truth about how they were able to achieve success by hard work.
Leahy: My question on that is, now these graduates are like 22 years old. Somewhere in that range. They were born in 2000. And I think what she’s trying to say is all of these problems in America, the discrimination that took place, she’s very angry about it, but I don’t know if any of the kids in that audience who are graduating have experienced very much of that.
Swain: Of course, they haven’t, but she’s motivating them to protest for activism, and for some reason, the progressives believed that this is the moment to relive the 1960s which was very successful for them to extract concessions.
That’s how we got preferential treatment for certain groups. It was through the riots, and so they’re trying to relive that moment. It’s all political, but again it’s, as a black person, I am saddened by that message.
Leahy: Reliving the 1960s, that’s about 60 years ago. That seems to be a bit of a theme. Crom, your thoughts.
Carmichael: Oprah, the way she expressed herself and the things that she said go back to what I said in my Crommentary is that the left wants you to believe that up is down and down is up. And what she wants you to believe is that things have gotten worse, not better for black people in particular. But one thing she said that to me was truly out of left field is when she talks about how everything is paid for. That everything that they were paid for. Tennessee State University is a Tennessee state university. Correct?
Leahy: It’s a public university.
Carmichael: It’s a public university. Two-thirds of the money at Tennessee State that is spent, I believe it’s taxpayer-funded. She didn’t even mention the hardworking taxpayers of Tennessee providing two-thirds of the funding for the school. It’s quite astounding because she’s a graduate.
Swain: I’m going in a different direction Crom because she said, you are here because of the prayers, you’ve been paid for. As a Christian, you’d follow up with, you’ve been paid for by the blood of Christ. You would go religious. She doesn’t go religious, she goes, protest, politics. Yeah. That’s an interesting twist. (Chuckles)
Leahy: Isn’t that a technique though, that’s being used, right? That the, it is the Christian altar call from a black preacher, if you will. That’s what she’s emulating. But the action is not to give your life to Christ.
Swain: Give your life to the state and protest.
Leahy: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
Carmichael: The state replaces Christ. Now, by the way, that’s another example of up is down and down is up the state. The state cannot replace Christ. But if enough people say the state can be your religion over and over again, there’ll be a certain number of people who believe that falsehood to be truthful.
Swain: But you know something, it was faith that led, Martin Luther King and various people to come together during the Civil Rights movement. That was why they were successful. They had a high moral ground. We’ve lost that.
Leahy: And they’re trying to recreate it. When we come back, what did she mean by arising? Hmm. That is a big question.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Carol Swain” by Carol M. Swain, PhD. Background Photo “Oprah Winfrey Speech At Tennessee State University Spring 2023 Commencement” by HBCU Pulse.