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The Boston Globe


derrick z. jackson

Obamas’ message not just for black students

I am long familiar with the messages delivered in recent days to black college graduates by the First Family. When done right, they sear you forever and seal you with purpose. Two of my most memorable wake-up calls to my worldly obligations came from my late uncle, Tommie Smith, a dean at historically black Jackson State College in Mississippi.

Fresh out of college in the mid 1970s, I was cutting his lawn. He came home from work and asked how I was doing. I muttered something that many of my contemporaries mindlessly said at the time.

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