Logan » Utah State University's 123rd commencement ceremony Saturday, featuring keynote speaker Danny Glover, will likely be remembered more for the actor's controversy than his celebrity.
During the color guard presentation of the American flag, a spectator yelled across the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, "Put your hand above your heart, Glover!"
The five-time Emmy nominee told The Salt Lake Tribune after the ceremony that he doesn't typically cover his heart during flag ceremonies and he meant no disrespect.
"I was listening to the national anthem and paying attention," he said. "I probably wasn't the only one in there who didn't put a hand over their heart."
The intermittent booing throughout the graduation, which was largely overpowered by clapping and cheering, didn't appear to rattle the stage and big-screen star. In his public comments and actions, Glover never acknowledged the behavior dozens of fresh graduates called "stupid," "rude" and "disrespectful." Ultimately, Glover was rewarded with a standing ovation by the majority of the large crowd.
He said he had been booed before. "People have problems sometimes with what I believe and who I talk to," Glover told The Tribune . "I try to respect people, honor them."
USU police Lt. Steve Milne, who prepared for protesters by banning signs inside the building during the ceremony, confiscated two posters.
"It is the Spectrum [arena], but this wasn't a basketball game," Milne told The Salt Lake Tribune .
It was the crowd surrounding critics that finally quieted the disruptive yelling. For Morgan Jackson, who came to watch her cousin Sidney Allen graduate, the constant booing a few rows behind her was "irritating."
"You would think you could let this be about the people who were graduating today," she said of the hecklers, who "probably didn't know anyone graduating and only came to cause a scene."
Allen, who played corner on the USU football team and graduated Saturday with a degree in physical education, said it meant a lot, after being a minority on the Logan campus for four years, to have Glover accept an honorary doctorate. The celebrity's speech, which highlighted many advances for minorities in the past 63 years since Glover's birth, was inspirational, said Allen, who is black.
Glover, who has been criticized for his friendship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, told the class of 2010 that global warming is real and that climate change is a human-rights issue, as well as an environmental issue.
A UNICEF good-will ambassador, Glover talked about the dangers of Arizona's proposed immigration Senate Bill 1070 and about his efforts to fight work-force discrimination and poverty in places such as Haiti.
"Who can you possibly be?" Glover asked graduates. "Maybe with all our force, all our conviction, all our humility, all our understanding, we can make something get done."
USU President Stan Albrecht told members of the graduating class that they are prepared to succeed in spite of today's difficult economic climate. Adjust plans, be patient, improvise and grasp opportunities, he said.
"While you might prefer a clear and more certain road map for your futures, the experiences to be gained by less certain times can actually be a good thing," Albrecht said.
Glover gets ovation, some boos at USU graduation
Bachelor's » 2,169
Master's » 525
Doctorates » 73