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Distinguished Commencement Speakers



U.S. Rep. John Lewis is CCNY Commencement Speaker,

Friday, May 31

John Lewis, 17-term U.S. Congressman (D-GA, 5th) and veteran Civil Rights Movement leader, is keynote speaker on Friday, May 31st at the City College of New York’s 173rd Commencement Exercises. He will receive the Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters. As co-founder and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington, he played many key roles in the Civil Rights Movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States. Born in Alabama, Lewis was inspired by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to join the Civil Rights Movement.  



Brandon Rapp (MBA 2019) was selected as the student speaker for Harvard Business School’s Class Day Celebration, held on Wednesday, May 29th. Rapp was chosen by his peers through an audition process that included more than 50 student speeches. At HBS, Rapp co-directed the African American Student Union’s 46th Annual H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference and was selected as an HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellow.




The Rev. Al Sharpton, on June 5th receives an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and serves as keynote speaker at Medgar Evers College commencement at Barclays Center. The internationally known civil rights leader and founder is president of the National Action Network. Rev. has been very busy in the academic circles this spring.  He has delivered commencement addresses at three HBCUs: Tennessee State University and Fisk University in Tennessee, both of which will award him honorary degrees, and Voorhees College in South Carolina.  Back in April 30, in the United Kingdom, he addressed students and faculty at the University of Cambridge.



Tarana Burke, civil rights activist and #MeToo Movement founder, receives an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on May 30th at Brooklyn College’s 2019 Commencement Ceremony at Barclays Center. She is also giving the keynote address. The college is recognizing her global impact on social justice and advocacy. 




Letitia (Tish) James, New York State Attorney General and a Lehman alumna, tomorrow is commencement speaker at York College. AG Tish delivered the keynote address at the CUNY School of Law commencement on May 31st and is the first woman of color to hold AG statewide office in New York.


Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez delivers the keynote address at tomorrow’s Hostos Community College ceremonies at Lehman College. Rodriguez took office as the eighth Chancellor of the City University of New York on May 31st becoming the first educator of color, and the first Latino, selected to lead the university.


Carl E. Heastie, New York State Assembly Speaker and an alumnus of Baruch College will deliver the keynote address at his alma mater’s commencement on June 3rd.


Hillary Clinton, at the forefront for progressive activism for four decades, on May 30th delivered the commencement speech at Madison Square Garden, where she received the inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Distinguished Leadership Award.







Alison Stewart, broadcast news journalist/author of “First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School” and JUNK: Digging Through America’s Love Affair with Stuff, delivered the commencement address for the CUNY School of Professional Studies on May 29th at Lincoln Center.




Loretta Lynch, the former U.S. Attorney General, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Wednesday, May 30th. Frederick Roosevelt Green, a former campaigner for Mayor Dinkins, also received a degree.


Margaret Chin, Chair, City Council’s Committee on Aging and co-chair and member of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, will receive the President’s Medal of Freedom and deliver the keynote speech at Borough of Manhattan Community College commencement ceremonies on May 31st.


J Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor of the City of New York and a graduate alumnus of Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, delivers the keynote for the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies commencement ceremonies on June 14th at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan.

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