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Chicago native, Morehouse College valedictorian calls for cease-fire in Gaza in front of Biden

Chicago native, Morehouse College valedictorian calls for cease-fire in Gaza in front of Biden
Chicago native, Morehouse College valedictorian calls for cease-fire in Gaza in front of Biden 02:48

CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago native DeAngelo Fletcher, the 2024 valedictorian at Morehouse College in Atlanta, called for a cease-fire in the war in Gaza during Sunday's graduation ceremony with President Biden sitting just feet away.

Fletcher told CBS 2 that Morehouse men don't stand for injustice.

For 140 years, Morehouse College has been known to produce change agents, and for the Class of 2024, that agent was Fletcher, who graduated with a degree in psychology, and minors in neuroscience and Chinese studies.

"There's something that you commonly say at Morehouse is that there's no such thing as a self-made anything and that is absolutely true," Fletcher said.

A day after his graduation, Fletcher reflected on his most profound moment as valedictorian.

"It was a lot more nerve-wracking yesterday, but now it feels good," he said.

Fletcher said he was so nervous that he almost turned down the opportunity, but after three weeks of preparation and faith, he felt ready. Then, tension on campus began mounting as Biden was announced as this year's commencement speaker.

Fletcher said some students were "feeling like it was kind of an honor," but there were others who felt "that it was a little backwards that President Biden was coming because of a lot of them felt very strongly about Palestine and I do as well."

He said calling for a cease-fire during his speech as valedictorian was "kind of a non-negotiable."

With Biden in attendance, Fletcher felt his speech was the best way to protest and use his voice, aside from the pins, Palestinian scarves, and decorated caps.

"It is my stance as a Morehouse man, nay as a human being, to call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in the Gaza strip," he said during his speech.

Fletcher said he believes injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, just like his fellow Morehouse brother, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did.

"The reason I feel that I was so comfortable with saying it, is that I was able to address my brothers," Fletcher said. "The Morehouse family ... it's so welcoming and nurturing. If I was in any other environment, I don't know if I would have been comfortable saying it."

Fletcher's speech was received with claps, cheers and a handshake from the president, which left him beaming with pride as he takes on his next journey while never forgetting where he comes from. He was also the salutatorian at Morgan Park Academy back in 2020.

"Chicago is always home," he said. "There's always a place to come home. There's always a village there. My dad brags about me a lot at home, and I know I always have people to come home to hugs, laughs, and kisses."

Fletcher said he will spend the next year as a registered behavior technician developing behavior plans for children with autism. After than, he plans to take the MCAT to pursue a career in childhood adolescent psychiatry.

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