WASHINGTON - "Wakanda Forever" filled the yard at Howard University as alumnus and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman greeted fellow Bisons and their families.
It was a full circle moment for the actor who graduated from Howard with a BFA in 2000 and was tapped to deliver the 2018 commencement address.
"It's overwhelming to be recognized amongst this year's other honorees. I can think of no better place to be right now after the 'Black Panther' and 'Avenger' campaigns," said Boseman.
Boseman, who is originally from South Carolina, went to Howard before attending the British American Dramatic Academy at Oxford.
His keynote speech focused on listening, learning, building with one another and taking on the world.
"That is the magic of this place. Anything can happen here."
"Beyond the physical campus, The Hilltop represents the culmination of the intellectual and spiritual journey you undergo while you were here. You have been climbing this academic slope for at least three, four years and for some of you maybe more."
At Saturday morning's ceremony, the university awarded more than 2,000 degrees, including nearly a hundred PhDs.
More African Americans are reportedly receiving PhDs on Howard's campus than any other university nationwide.
"I'm teetering between being a professor because I've taught before. I currently am an adjunct professor at Trinity Washington University. And I have industry experience, so maybe a pharmaceutical company," said Courtney Thomas, Howard University Chemistry Ph.D. Graduate.
The commencement ceremony is a culmination of a challenging year for Howard, filled with student protests over a financial aid scandal and demands that Howard's President Wayne Frederick resign.
Even so, Frederick applauded student protesters and promoted free speech on college campuses.
"Free speech is essential to all the university. We are an institution where freedom of thought, choice and expression are ever present," he said.
Boseman left Howard's 2018 graduating class with this message:
"Savor the taste of your triumphs today. Don't just swallow the moment whole without digesting what is actually happening here. Look down over what you conquered and appreciate what God has brought you through."
The university awarded Boseman with an honorary doctorate degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, the university's highest honor.