Twitter / White House

President Obama told the students of Howard University to "create your own style, set your own standard of beauty, embrace your own sexuality" in his commencement address to the school on Saturday.

"Be confident in your heritage," Obama told the graduates of the historically black college. "Be confident of your blackness."

Obama told students that although "you don't have to risk your life to cast a ballot; other people already did that for you," that too many young people do not vote. "When we don’t vote, we give away our power. We disenfranchise ourselves," Obama said.

"It may sound like a controversial statement — a hot take — given the current state our political rhetoric and debate, but America is a better place today than it was when I graduated from college," Obama told the graduates.

Advertisement

Obama ended his speech on a hopeful note, telling students that they were responsible to bring change in the world. "Yes we can," he told the cheering crowd, invoking his famous campaign slogan from 2008.