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11:20 a.m. Biden receives honorary degree from SC State
After speaking to graduates Friday morning, Biden received an honorary degree from SC State.
11:03 a.m. Biden highlights accomplishments of HBCUs
In his speech, Biden emphasized the impact of HBCUs in the country, listing out how over half the Black workforce, in medical, judicial as well as governmental fields, are graduates of HBCUs.
11:01 a.m.: Biden talks about Clyburn's role in the passing of Infrastructure Bill
"If we don’t know the community, it’s hard to know what it needs," Biden said, emphasizing the importance of representation in giving back to the community.
Biden talked about Clyburn's pivotal role in passing the federal Infrastructure Bill, which will bring investment and jobs to South Carolina.
10:51 a.m.: Protesters gather off campus
A group of six “Women for Trump” protesters were outside of the university beginning around 9 a.m., along with an Ethiopian pro-democracy group who said they were there to protest Biden’s support of TPLF, a terrorist group in Ethiopia.
The group of Trump supporters was there to protest mask mandates, vaccinations, and abortion.
10:40 a.m.: Biden and Clyburn address SC State graduates
During each of their speeches, Biden and Clyburn talk about never giving up.
“You keep trying until you get it right,” Clyburn said to graduates, narrating his own personal story of a boy from Sumter who lost three Congressional races before he was elected to the House of Representatives.
Biden, in sync, asked graduates to never get down, never give up.
Biden also credited Clyburn for making pivotal decisions in the U.S. Congress for the benefit of his communities in South Carolina. "He never forgets where came from," Biden said.
10:27 a.m. Biden introduced at SC State graduation
Rodney C. Jenkins, Chair of the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees is welcoming President Biden and Rep. Clyburn to a big round of applause from the crowd.
“Mr. President, your presence here today is historic for our beloved university," Jenkins said, leading the introduction with the university’s war cry of “Bulldog Tenacity."
9:17 a.m. President Biden arrives in South Carolina ahead of his visit to SC State
President Biden has landed in Columbia and will be making his way toward Orangeburg for the commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Smith Hammond Middleton Memorial Center, the venue for the ceremony, has started filling up with a majority of the attendees in masks.
8:48 a.m.: Family of graduates and SC State faculty express excitement over Biden's visit
Linda Davis Huggins, a faculty member at SC State University, said the event — and the president’s attendance — is exciting for the graduates and for faculty and staff.
“I think it’s a great thing,” she said.
Louis Spann is attending the ceremony to see his sister, Phylicia Spann, graduate. He said it is a proud moment.
He summed up his thoughts about the president with a chuckle and two words:
— Macon Atkinson (@maconatkinson) December 17, 2021
8:44 a.m.: Biden to hand out diplomas to graduates
SC State officials have said that President Joe Biden will be handing out diplomas to each graduate, one of them being House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, who invited Biden to the commencement ceremony.
8:25 a.m.: SC State students begin lining up for graduation ceremony
Students are lining up outside the barricade under security’s watchful eye, ready to march from the Fine Arts Center into Smith-Hammond Middleton Memorial Center. Families are unloading from nearby shuttles and walking toward the Memorial Center.
Our graduates are ready! pic.twitter.com/y5i806AZKP
— SC State University (@SCSTATE1896) December 17, 2021
7:50 a.m.: Police readying for Biden arrival
It’s a foggy, quiet morning at Smith Hammond Middleton Memorial Center, and the streets in front of the auditorium are swarming with security and police officers. Faculty are filing into a nearby building to prepare for the processional into the ceremony, donning caps and gowns.
President Joe Biden will be in South Carolina today speaking to December graduates of South Carolina State University. Biden will be the first sitting president to deliver a commencement address at South Carolina State in the school's 125-year history.
Biden was asked to speak at the ceremony by U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, who was previously scheduled to be the keynote speaker. Clyburn will receive a degree during the ceremony and will march with the Class of 2021 after not marching to receive his degree from S.C. State in 1961, when the college did not hold December graduation ceremonies.
A spokesman said Tuesday that Gov. Henry McMaster has "no plans" to see Biden, and the state's two U.S. senators, Republicans Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, also are expected to skip Biden's visit.
Alexander Conyers, the interim president of South Carolina State University, said during a news conference Wednesday that no protests are expected during Biden's visit.
"Obviously if that happens we're certainly prepared," he said. "We have prepared for any and all contingencies."
The commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Smith Hammond Middleton Memorial Center.
Tamia Boyd and Kirk Brown contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Joe Biden gives graduation speech at South Carolina State commencement