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Pelosi Calls on Berkeley Graduates to Be ‘Disruptors’

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi channeled Silicon Valley in her May 17 commencement address at the University of California, Berkeley, calling on graduates to be “disruptors.”  

“Our founders were successful disruptors of the then-status quo,” the California Democrat said. “Being called a disruptor, in my view, is a very high compliment.”  

Pelosi noted Berkeley’s history of disruption, citing the free-speech protests of the 1960s led by civil rights activist Mario Savio.  

Savio’s message, Pelosi said, was only as fast as the tools of that time, namely, radio and television.  

“Now, it’s all about you,” Pelosi said. “What you can do with your freedom to speak out, with the tools of our time: Instagram and YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.” In channeling Silicon Valley’s call for “disruptive” innovations — tech-speak for new products and ideas that disrupt markets and replace old technologies — Pelosi said “at least one of you” is going to create the next big social media platform.  

“With these new tools, every one of you has the power to make a difference,” she said.  

Pelosi also noted that it was the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case that said “separate, but equal” schools, as previously established in Plessy vs. Ferguson, were “inherently unequal.”  

“Let’s insist on a quality education for all of America’s children,” Pelosi said. “Let’s unleash the potential of women in our economy, because we believe, when women succeed, America succeeds.”  

Pelosi also took a shot at the Supreme Court’s decisions discouraging restrictions on the use of money in political campaigns, saying that rulings equating cash with free speech open the “floodgates to secret, special interest money in our elections.”  

“Our Founders created a democracy, a government of the many, not a government of the money,” Pelosi said. “So let’s be disruptors.”  

Read Pelosi’s prepared remarks here .

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