Former secretary of state stresses need to be defender of liberty at home and abroad
The former, and first female, secretary of state was on stage from the beginning, sitting among DU’s distinguished faculty and administration, draped in the same brightly striped black robes. Albright, who graduated from Kent High School in Denver, gave the commencement address.
“I can picture my father, pipe in hand, reading the newspaper, and shaking his head at how foolish people can be,” Albright said. “And he thought he knew the answer.
“Because of him, the answer is education,” Albright said, highlighting her father Josef Korbel’s founding of DU’s Graduate School of International Studies in 1964. The graduate and undergraduate schools were renamed the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in 2008.
Albright, 79, gave a vivacious speech on why this graduating class’ degrees are so important in today’s world.
“Getting a degree is hard — so you can imagine how grateful I am to receive one just for showing up,” Albright said to laughter.
Before her address, DU awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree for her leadership. The university cited her advocacy and her leadership as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1993-97 and secretary of state from 1997-2001 for the honor.
“When pride in ‘us’ descends into hatred of ‘them,’ the American tapestry unravels … and spirals into hatred of racial groups and the LGBTQ community, and demonization of refugees and immigrants,” said Albright, whose family came to the U.S. as refugees from Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia in 1948.
“We cannot will away or wall away the world,” Albright said, referencing Trump’s proposed immigration policy. She said the U.S. should take in more refugees.
“While America cannot be the world’s sole policeman, it must be its best partner,” Albright said, urging the students that “engagement abroad matters,” and it is education that enables it.
“You can produce enough food, build enough shelter and share enough knowledge to allow people to live better,” she said. “The future is not decided by the stars or some course of history, but by the choices that you, and I, and all of us make.”
“You must not only be a consumer of liberty,” she said, “But a defender and enricher of it.”