President Obama gets a round of applause
ATLANTA -- The announcement came days ago, but students at Morehouse are still on cloud nine.
"Everybody has their chest out a little bit," senior Nathaniel Sinckler smiled. "You know we had to brag a little."
It happened during the school's Candle in the Dark anniversary celebration Saturday night: Morehouse President Dr. John Wilson, Jr. announced President Obama will be this year's commencement speaker.
This will be President Obama's first time speaking at a Morehouse Commencement, but it's not for lack of trying. Two years ago, the class of 2011 put together a video in hopes of luring the president to campus.
This time, Dr. Wilson said, it was the White House who called him.
Student Government Association president and Morehouse senior Anre Washington said the speech couldn't come at a more perfect time.
"The fact that he would come this year, 50 years since the 'I Have a Dream' speech, 100 years of Morehouse being named Morehouse, 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation...it's just divine orchestration," he said.
Morehouse College is a school deeply rooted in tradition, and commencement is certainly no different. Each year, ten thousand chairs are arranged in the middle of Morehouse on Century Campus, where the ceremony takes place. Graduating seniors line up at King Chapel, walk down Brown Street and file into the graduation area, a picturesque open space surrounded by trees and brick buildings.
But senior class president Michael Daniels-Fleming said he's already heard talk that the location might change.
"I could understand that, with security and everything," he said. "But personally, as a student and a lover of Morehouse's tradition, I actually want it to stay on campus."
A Morehouse spokesperson said it is too early to say what, if anything, would change. Morehouse officials will meet with the White House in the coming weeks to discuss plans, she said.
But Daniels-Fleming said the most important thing is already a done deal:
"President Obama is still speaking at my graduation," he smiled. "Wherever it's at, I'm gonna be there!"
Morehouse College's spring commencement is Sunday, May 19.