At her graduation from Wellesley College in 1969, Hillary Clinton was voted by her fellow students to be the college’s first-ever student speaker, and today, Wellesley has released audio of 21-year-old Hillary’s speech, the same speech that earned young Clinton a Life writeup. It really feels like she could have delivered the same speech yesterday.
Clinton was introduced by the ninth president of Wellesley College, Ruth M. Adams, who said, “She is a major in political science and a candidate for the degree with honors. She is also cheerful, good-humored, good company, and a good friend to all of us.” Then, in excerpts from the speech she delivered back then, you can hear Clinton touch on women in leadership, protest, defeated expectations, education, and of course, human liberation and trumping fear.
“We’re not in the positions yet of leadership and power but we do have that indispensable element of criticizing and constructive protest,” she said. She even addressed those of another generation who questioned her decisions to push back: “They ask us quite often, ‘Why if you’re dissatisfied, do you stay in a place?’ Well, If you didn’t care a lot about it, you wouldn’t stay.” She continued: “We found — as all of us have found — that there was a gap between expectation and realities. But it wasn’t a discouraging gap and it didn’t turn us into cynical, bitter old women at the age of 18. It just inspired us to do something about the gap.”
“I was talking to a woman who said she wouldn’t want to be me for anything in the world,” Clinton said in that familiar low register in 1969. How little things change.