Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at Brown University graduation 2022

In her call for national unity at Brown University commencement Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t shy away from hot-button politics.

The California Democrat and first woman to become speaker 15 years ago warned of efforts to attack abortion rights, same sex marriage, voting rights and, from supporters of the Jan. 6 insurrection, democracy.

“You are graduating into a vastly different world from the first time you proceeded through the Van Wickle Gates,” she said, first noting the ongoing war in Ukraine. “Indeed our own nation is no stranger to dark and anti-democratic forces. On January 6, 2021 an unprecedented insurrection unleased an unimaginable violence on the grounds and halls of the Capitol, a strike at the heart of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stops to be in a photo with a Brown University graduate after delivering a commencement speech on Sunday.

She went on:

“In the months since the insurrection we’ve seen further assaults on democracy, shameful campaigns of voter suppression, and election nullification, a Supreme Court poised to overturn a woman’s right to decide and threatening more privacy rights including marriage equality. We can’t let that happen.”  

Pelosi was one of nine people to receive honorary Brown degrees this weekend from the Ivy League university and the only elected official.

Brown doesn’t often choose politicians as commencement speakers.

The late Democratic congressman John Lewis received an honorary degree and addressed graduates in 2018, but Brown staff could not immediately say who the last sitting elected official before Lewis was. 

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