KENT – Long before he was Batman, Michael Keaton was a Golden Flash.
The star actor, an Academy Award nominee, delivered the commencement address at Kent State on Saturday, a university where he studied journalism in the early 1970s.
Keaton recalled fondly his days at Kent State, and said the school had a great journalism program.
In an earlier Q & A with a smaller group of students, Keaton said journalism is “more important than ever.”
He made a veiled reference to President Donald Trump when he talked about “autocratic” statements saying that the press is “the enemy of the people.”
“It’s not an exaggeration to say,” he continued, “that that’s basically a threat to the First Amendment.”
Keaton attended Kent State not long after the tragedy where four students were killed by the National Guard.
In his commencement speech, Keaton recalled hitchhiking to an anti-Vietnam protest in Washington D.C., and being given a ride by a Guardsman.
“He was going down to keep the peace, and I was going down to march for peace,” Keaton said. “We weren’t that different really.”
Keaton teased about the title of the song “Waiting on the World to Change,” by a friend of his, singer John Mayer.
“I hate that song,” he told the crowd to laughter, urging students not to “wait for anyone. You are the world. You are the change.”
Keaton intended to graduate, but never returned to school after he started to pursue acting, and had some success.
Kent State paid him $100,000 for the visit – the university saying that none of the money came from tuition or taxpayers.
The actor told students that they would be hit by humility, and it would be good for them.
In closing, he told the graduates to “Be generous, be fair, be courageous, be yourself.”