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10 powerful HBCU commencement speakers for 2019


Erica Lamberson, Spelman College’s 2015 salutatorian, leads the graduating class at the 128th commencement (Photo by Sistarazzi for Steed Media Service)

Thousands of students who attend HBCUs will become graduates this month. Before the grads enter the real world, it’s important for them to receive keen advice from commencement speakers who can provide words of encouragement.

Here are 10 powerful HBCU commencement speakers for 2019.

Marc H. Morial, Grambling University

Marc H. Morial serves as president and CEO of the National Urban League and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Morial leads the nation’s largest civil rights and urban advocacy effort. He will speak on Friday, May 10.

Omar J. Dorsey, Southern University

Actor Omar J. Dorsey stars in “Queen Sugar,” has had film roles in Selma and Django Unchained and will also have a role in the Netflix series “When They See Us,” which focuses on the famous Central Park Five trial. Dorsey will speak on Friday, May 10.

Everette Taylor, Shaw University

Everette Taylor began his career as an entrepreneur at the age of 19 when he founded the event marketing technology company EZ Events. He built several multimillion-dollar brands before he turned 30. Taylor will speak at Shaw University’s commencement on Saturday, May 11.

Kasim Reed, Howard University

Kasim Reed is an attorney who served two terms as the 59th mayor of the city of Atlanta. Reed is a Howard University graduate, having received his bachelor of arts and Juris Doctor degrees from that august institution. Howard’s commencement will be held on Saturday, May 11.

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Prarie View A&M University

Michael Eric Dyson is an award-winning author and a professor at Georgetown University. Dyson has written nearly 20 books and is also a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times. Dyson will speak at Prarie View A&M University on Saturday, May 11.

Morgan State University, Congressman Elijah Cummings

Elijah Cummings has represented Maryland’s 6th Congressional District since 1996. Cummings is a former chair and current member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He will speak at Morgan State University on Saturday, May 11.

Bakari Sellers, Lincoln University 

Bakari Sellers made history when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at 22 years old, becoming the youngest African American to become an elected official in America. Sellers will address Lincoln University grads on Saturday, May 11.

Loretta Lynch, Tuskegee University

Loretta Lynch made history when she became the nation’s first female African American U.S. attorney general in 2015. Lynch served under President Barack Obama for two years. Tuskegee University’s commencement will take place on Saturday, May 11.

Robert F. Smith, Morehouse College

Robert F. Smith, founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, is one of the most prominent and successful investors of the 21st century and has a reported net worth of more than $1 billion. Smith will share his journey with Morehouse College grads on Sunday, May 19.

Keisha Lance Bottoms, Spelman College

Keisha Lance Bottoms is the only mayor in Atlanta’s history to have served in all three branches of government, serving as a judge and city council member before being sworn in as mayor. She will serve as Spelman’s commencement speaker on Sunday, May 19.