The president also reflected on the absence of his father growing up, noting that he was raised by a “heroic single mother” and urged the young graduates not to shrink from their family responsibilities.

“My whole life, I’ve tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn’t for my mother and me,” Obama said. “I want to break that cycle — where a father’s not at home, where a father’s not helping to raise that son and daughter. I want to be a better father, a better husband, a better man.”…

Obama said that too many young black men make “bad choices.”

“Growing up, I made quite a few myself,” Obama said. “Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency to make excuses for me not doing the right thing.”

But, the president implored, “We’ve got no time for excuses.”

“In today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil, many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did, all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned,” he said. “Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination.”