Joseph R. Biden Jr., the 46th president of the United States, is the commencement speaker for the S.C. State Class of 2021’s December graduates at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.

At 10:40 a.m., the president is speaking.

Those in attendance are excited about the event.

Fred Hammond told T&D Staff Writer Gene Zaleski he came all the way from Atlanta to see his nephew graduate.

“I heard Biden was going to be here coincidentally. I was going to be here regardless who spoke.”

When told Biden’s visit was historic, Hammond simply said, “Wow! That is great!

“ I am excited to be here,” he continued.

He also said he was excited for Congressman Jim Clyburn be able to walk and receive his degree.

Mary Thompson, a 1960 graduate of SCSU, came to see her granddaughter, Ashley Thompson, graduate. Her granddaughter is a mass communicaions major.

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“It is the most exciting time,” Thompson said. “If he (Biden) doesn’t even say anything but hello but she can tell her grandchildren that the president spoke at my commencement.”

Earlier coverage

The T&D has a team of journalists on the scene and will be bringing you coverage throughout the day, with updates being posted as developments unfold.

At 7 a.m., T&D Staff Writer Gene Zaleski reported a heavy police presence at the entrance to S.C. State, with streets on campus being blocked off near S-H-M.

SCSU spokesman Sam Watson said Biden was running about 20 minutes late because of the heavy fog, but he is still coming.

Graduates were entering S-H-M more than an hour before the ceremony.

No further word at 8:30 a.m. on the arrival of President Biden.

At 9 a.m., graduates were preparing to enter S-H-M and other officials were inside. The shuttle taking people to the center was making its last run.

By 9:30 a.m., graduates and other attendees were inside S-H-M as required. The T&D’s Larry Hardy is providing photo coverage from inside the center.

Preparation for the event has been ongoing all week since the announcement this past Saturday that the president would be coming to Orangeburg for the speech.

The campus opened early today at 6:30 a.m. to graduating seniors, invited guests and SC State employees.

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