Biden says Gaza protester voices "should be heard" in speech at MLK's university

Atlanta, Georgia - President Joe Biden told students at the former university of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr on Sunday that he has heard the Gaza war protesters' voices.

President Joe Biden (c.) speaks at the Morehouse College Commencement on Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia.
President Joe Biden (c.) speaks at the Morehouse College Commencement on Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia.  © Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/AFP Elijah Nouvelage / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

As a handful of students turned their backs on Biden and held Palestinian flags during the graduation ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, the president added that he was working for an immediate ceasefire and lasting peace.

"I support peaceful, non-violent protest. Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them," said Biden, who wore a maroon and black gown in the colors of the historically Black university.

Several polls have shown Biden's support lagging among Black voters.

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The speech was Biden's most direct encounter with college students since the Gaza protests engulfed campuses nationwide, causing him political troubles with an election rematch against Donald Trump just over six months away.

"This is one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world. There's nothing easy about it," added Biden about Gaza.

"I know it angers and frustrates many of you, including my family, but most of all, I know it breaks your heart. It breaks mine as well."

He did not elaborate, but First Lady Jill Biden reportedly urged the president in April to "stop it now" as the toll of Palestinian civilians mounted from Israel's offensive following the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

Biden assures Morehouse students he is working for "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza

A number of Morehouse students had called for Biden's speech to be canceled over the Gaza war but the ceremony went ahead without disruption, although a few graduates wore Palestinian keffiyeh scarves over their gowns.

Biden told the students that Gaza was enduring a "humanitarian crisis" and that he was working for an "immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting, bring the hostages home."

The 81-year-old Democrat added that he was pushing for a "lasting, durable peace" in the wider Middle East that would lead to an independent Palestinian state, which he called the "only solution."

Cover photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/AFP Elijah Nouvelage / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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