Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

May 20, 1988

Congressman William H. Gray III of Pennsylvania, the first African-American to serve as chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Budget, delivered the 1988 Commencement address. Gray evoked the non-violent philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr., spoke of the threat of nuclear war and told the graduating seniors, “You are a generation raised on pizza and Pop Tarts, Rambo and Reagan. You were born in the burning sixties, grew to maturity in the painful seventies, and in the decade of the eighties, you accepted your responsibility for the future as you educated yourselves for this moment.

“You are now the miracle of time and space. You have been born for just this moment. You are ready to set the tone, tune the instruments, make the music. It is your song that will now play. It is your song that must be heard. It is your turn to dance.”

Press & Information Office, News

Gray, the brother of Dr. Marian Gray Secundy ’60, later served as majority whip (1989-1991) in the House of Representatives, the first African American to fill this position. Gray was president of the United Negro College Fund from 1991 until 2004.

The Years