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Diversity of HBCU speakers in upcoming commencements

Diversity of HBCU speakers in upcoming commencements
May 04
04:00 2017

BY CASH MICHAELS 

FOR THE CHRONICLE

Once again, black families in the Triad and Triangle that have students graduating from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are preparing for May commencement exercises, where leaders in the fields of business, education, politics and entertainment come to deliver keynote addresses to new graduates about the world that awaits them, and how they should handle it.

Winston-Salem State University’s 2017 Commencement, scheduled for Bowman Gray Stadium on Saturday, May 19 at 9:45 a.m. will feature noted attorney and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers as the keynote speaker.

He made history in 2006 as the youngest African American elected official in the nation. At age 22, Sellers defeated a 26-year incumbent state representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina State Legislature, serving from 2006-14. In 2014, he was the Democratic nominee for South Carolina lieutenant governor. More recently, he has served as a political commentator and analyst for CNN and MSNBC.

His father is civil rights leader and educator Dr. Cleveland Sellers.

Sellers practices law with the Strom Law Firm in Columbia, South Carolina. He is married to Dr. Ellen Rucker-Sellers.

The ceremony will recognize more than 1,200 graduates who received their degrees during sum-mer and fall 2016 and spring 2017. This includes:

*More than 1,100 undergraduates.

*129 graduates (master’s and doctoral).

*Three post-graduate certificates.

The ceremony will be held, weather permitting, at Bowman Gray Stadium. The rain location is Winston-Salem’s Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. For those who cannot attend, the ceremony will be live-streamed on WSSU’s web-site: www.wssu.edu.

At Bennett College in Greensboro, a familiar face will deliver the commencement address on Saturday, May 6. U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (D-12- NC), who had previously taught art at the all-female HBCU for over 40 years, will be speaking during the 10 a.m. ceremony on the campus quadrangle. Rep. Adams formerly served in the N.C. House for many years, before being elected to Congress in 2014. She will speak at 10 a.m. in The Quadrangle on the Bennett campus.

Visitors are also welcomed at Baccalaureate Exercises, which begin at 7 p.m. on May 5 inside the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel on campus. The Rev. Dr. Daran H. Mitchell, senior pastor of Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and President of The Pulpit Forum of Greensboro, will deliver the Baccalaureate address.

In the event of inclement weather, Commencement will be held inside the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel on Bennett’s campus.

A few miles away on Saturday, May 13, N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University will welcome undefeated boxing champion, author and TV hostess Laila Ali, daughter of legendary champion Muhammad Ali, as the keynote speaker during the main commencement ceremony, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

Ms. Ali, born in 1977 to her father and Veronica Porsche Ali, began her boxing career at the age of 18, turning pro at age 22. She retired undefeated after eight years with a record of 24-0. Her world-renowned father died less than a year ago at age 74.

In Durham, the 2017 Spring Commencement for North Carolina Central University (NCCU) under-graduates in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on Saturday, May 13 at 8 a.m. will feature retired astronaut Joan Higginbotham. She spent 308 hours in space during the Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 2006, making her the third African-American woman ever to travel in space. Currently she is a Lowes Companies Inc. executive and serves on the NCCU Board of Trustees.

On Friday evening May 12, Justice Mike Morgan of the N.C. Supreme Court will address the NCCU Graduate and Professional Commencement Ceremony in McDougald-McLendon Arena. Justice Morgan is an alumnus of the NCCU School of Law.

Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner will be the keynoter for Shaw University’s 2017 Commencement exercises Saturday, May 13 at the Raleigh Convention Center starting at 10 a.m.

Chronicle reports contributed to this report.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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