Sunday, January 4, 2015

Senator Edward W. Brook's Commencement Address to the Wellesley College Class of 1969

It is a special pleasure for me to be with you today. I suppose that any politician is always pleased to couple someone else's memorable occasion with a few modest words of his own. It gives him hope that both may be remembered.
Wellesley has even more admirers than its girls have beaux, and I am pleased to be among this college's most enthusiastic boosters. But your commencement from this great school is not a moment to indulge in lavish praise of the fine education you have acquired here, though fine it is. Nor Is It a time for extravagant rhetoric about the glorious future which awaits you, though glorious I hope it will be.
Rather I think you and I might better spend this time in a more sober assessment of the kind of society which is developing around us all. For the individual prospects of each of us are directly dependent on the outcome of the mounting social struggles now under way in this country. Most of us have come to see that personal insulation from the conflict and instability of our time is a dubious and unattainable luxury.' It is as true today as it was at the time of the Declaration of Independence that "we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." The social crises of this country have many dimensions; it would be futile to address all of them In a brief statement. Rather than deal with the more controversial issues, I hope you will permit me to offer some reflections on one of the safer and less inflammatory topics of the day, the protest movement in general,, and the character and function of student protests in particular. Standing as I do somewhere between fading youth and advancing obsolescence, I hope it will be possible for me to speak both to your generation and to my own.

(SourceWellesley College)