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Biden faces silent pro-Palestinian protest at Morehouse College graduation – Orange County Register

President Joe Biden renewed his call for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza in a speech at Morehouse College’s graduation ceremony, during which some attendees donned Palestinian colors to protest the Israeli military incursion.

Biden’s speech at the historically black Atlanta school brought him face to face with some of the campus unrest sparked by the war between Israel and Hamas, which has inflamed US politics and added risks to his re-election campaign . Several students and at least two professors openly expressed solidarity with the Palestinians before and during the speech.

“What is happening in Gaza and Israel is heartbreaking,” Biden said Sunday, referring to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants and the plight of “innocent Palestinians” caught up in the Israeli military response. He said he was “working around the clock” to deliver more humanitarian aid to Gaza and build “lasting peace” in the region.

“It is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That’s why I called for an immediate ceasefire,” Biden said, to applause. “Bring the hostages home.”

At first, several students and professors wore keffiyehs, which became a symbol of protest against the war in Gaza. At least one student draped a Palestinian flag over his graduation gown and a faculty member wore a stole in Palestinian colors while receiving an award at the podium.

Before Biden, valedictorian DeAngelo Fletcher called for “an immediate and permanent ceasefire” in Gaza during an impassioned speech evoking the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., a Morehouse alumnus.

“It is only fitting that the Class of 2024 uses whatever platform is offered to stand in solidarity with peace and justice,” said Fletcher, a psychology major.

Taura Taylor, an assistant professor, stood with her fist raised and her back turned to Biden throughout his speech. She also wore a keffiyeh.

Biden did not acknowledge the silent protests and said during the ceremony that it was his duty to tackle “one of the most difficult and complicated problems in the world.”

“Leadership is about tackling the most intractable problems,” he said. “It’s about challenging anger, frustration and grief to find a solution. It’s about doing what you believe is right, even when it’s hard and lonely.

Read more: Biden risks losing significant share of black vote, says King

The war in Gaza has sparked anti-war protests on at least 100 U.S. college campuses, although students at Morehouse and other historically black colleges and universities have mostly not joined in visible forms of protest.

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