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Michelle Obama, Soledad O’Brien, Bill Cosby Set to Speak at 2011 HBCU Graduations

First Lady Michelle Obama

It’s spring which not only means a change in the weather it is also graduation season around the country. Graduation means achievement, accomplishment, and advancement to most, and as a 2010 graduate of Capella University, I know the feeling of excitement that comes with this wonderful feat. The pride and happiness that exudes from friends and family when a student has completed the ultimate accomplishment and is ready to receive their college degree is worthy of commemoration

Graduation is defined as the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the ceremony that is associated with the achievement, where students become graduates. Graduation also marks the entry into adulthood, careers, families, graduate degrees and making dreams come true. As I think back to how much my parents wanted me to complete my education and what having my degree has meant for my life I know the feeling of pride that the 2011 graduates must be feeling. I was so happy that my mother was able to see see me achieve my goal and though my father is deceased, I know that he is proud of me as well.

CNN Anchor Soledad O'Brien

Another wonderful part of the graduation ceremony is the commencement speaker and this year has some of the world’s most intelligent and powerful speakers giving commencement addresses at colleges and universities across the country. The announcement of Michelle Obama speaking at Spelman College’s graduation is the one that I am most looking forward to, because not only is the first lady an inspiration to so many young, African American women across the globe, but I have a family member, Ashley Robertson graduating this year from Spelman which makes it that much better for me personally. Some graduations have already taken place with more to come come throughout the month of May. To all of the 2011 graduates, I take my hat off to you and send a heartfelt congratulations for a job well done. I will leave you with an appropriate quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -christa e. jackson


Susan L. Taylor - Emeritus Editor-In-Chief Essence Magazine

Below is a list of some of the graduations taking place at popular Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their respective commencement speakers for 2011:

Alabama A & M University – May 13, 2011 – Odysseus Lanier (President of the Alabama A&M Board of Trustees

Albany State University – May 7, 2011 – Kessel Stelling, Jr.(Member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents)

Bethune -Cookman University – May 5, 2011 – Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist

Clark Atlanta University – May 16, 2011 – Susan L. Taylor (Emeritus Editor -In-Chief, Essence Magazine)

Dillard University – May 7, 2011 – Soledad O’Brien (Award-winning journalist and CNN Anchor)

Fisk University – May 2, 2011 – Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Alma Johnson Powell (America’s Promise Chair)

Florida A & M University – April 30, 2011 – Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Lisa P. Jackson (Head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Fort Valley State University – May 7, 2011- Gary Black (Georgia’s Agricultural Commissioner)

Hampton University – May 8, 2011 – Dr. William “Bill” Cosby, Jr., (actor, comedian, activist)

Howard University – May 14, 2011 – Marc Morial (President and CEO of the National Urban League)

Morehouse College – May 15, 2011 – Gwen Ifill (Managing Editor at Washington Week) and Charles Ogletree (Award winning author and journalist)

North Carolina A&T – May 7, 2011 –Dr. Randal Pinkett, President & CEO of BCT Partners

Spelman College – May 15, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama

Tennessee State University – May 7, 2011 – Dr. T.B. Boyd III, (President & CEO of R.H. Boyd Publishing)

Tuskegee University – May 8, 2011 – Tom Joyner (Nationally Syndicated Radio Personality)

Xavier University – May 7, 2011 – Marc Morial (CEO of the National Urban League)



3 Comments

  1. Ryan Peña - Capella on May 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Great article Christa and congrats on gratuating from Capella in 2010…we’re so proud of you! 🙂

    • Christa Jackson on May 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks so much. I appreciate the comment and the well wishes. Take care.

  2. Lovellwgamble on June 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    HBCUs are so important to the history & legacy of african americans. HBCUs empower our youth with the strength & values of which HBCUs were founded.