Academy award-winning actor, Denzel Washington, while giving a commencement speech at Dilliard University, New Orleans on Sunday, May 10, 2015, to “put God first.”
The actor who has starred in movies like Malcolm X, John Q, Training Day, Glory, The Book of Eli, and The Equalizer told the graduates if the historically black university that everything he had accomplish in life was due to “the grace of God.” The actor also received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letter at the ceremony.
“Everything you think you see in me, everything I’ve accomplished, everything you think I have – and I have a few things,” said Washington. “Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift.”
He talked about how his mother had helped get his head in the right place when he was getting too proud of his achievements as a young man.
“So, I’m saying that because I want to congratulate all the parents and friends and family and aunties and uncles and grandmother and grandfathers, all the people that helped you get to where you are today,” Washington told the graduates. “I’m going to tell you about three stories. I’m going to keep it short. I remember my graduation speaker, got up there and went on forever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
In conclusion, he reiterated some of the comments about relying on God he had made over the years. He also told them that, “I pray that you put your slippers under your bed tonight, so that when you wake up in the morning you have to get on your knees to reach them.”
“And while you’re down there, say thank you,” he said. “Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents. … True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you, sent beforehand, to indicate that it’s yours already.”
Washington has worked in the theatre in addition to movies. He won an Academy Award for best actor in the 2001 film Training Day, and a best supporting actor Academy Award for the 1989 film Glory.
Denzel Washington, 60, is married with five children and is a Pentecostal Christian.