HBCU commencement speakers slated

Tom Joyner

It’s graduation time for the nation’s colleges and universities, and here in the Athens of the South the commencement speakers for Nashville’s HBCUs are a diverse group of internationally recognized African American leaders.

At Fisk, Meharry and TSU the commencement speakers are men who have championed the struggle for freedom and justice in courtrooms, legislatures, church pulpits, medical venues and governmental agencies, and in the media over the airwaves. They are poised to present messages of hope and inspiration as members of the Class of 2013 begin the next phases of their lives.

The Fisk University Commencement will be held on the Campus Grove Monday, May 6, at 10 am. The two primary commencement speakers will be Thomas Joyner, Sr. and Jeh Charles Johnson. Robert W. Norton and Henry A. Moses will also speak. Joyner, Johnson, Norton and Moses will each receive an honorary degree.

Joyner is one of the most influential, inspirational and dynamic media personalities in the country today. Joyner, known as ‘The Hardest Working Man in Radio,’ has distinguished himself as one of the most recognized and revered media personalities in the country. In addition to his disc jockey duties, he is an entrepreneur, entertainer and philanthropist. Joyner is the founder of REACH Media Inc., the Tom Joyner Foundation, Black AmericaWeb.com and host of the leading nationally syndicated morning radio show, Tom Joyner Morning Show. In addition Joyner has also led voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, major fundraising initiatives to help families and students affected by Hurricane Katrina, led campaigns against minority discrimination in advertising and created ‘Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day.’ Joyner earned his bachelor of science in sociology degree from Tuskegee (Institute) University and began his broadcast career in Montgomery, Alabama.

Jeh Charles Johnson

Jeh Charles Johnson is a 1979 graduate of Morehouse College, and a 1982 graduate of Columbia Law School. He is the grandson of Charles Spurgeon Johnson, the premier sociologist and distinguished first African American president of Fisk University. As General Counsel of the Defense Department in 2009-12, Johnson was the senior legal adviser and one of the civilian leaders of the largest government agency in the world, responsible for the legal work of over 10,000 lawyers. He was at the center of many high-profile national security issues within the Obama Administration. Johnson also played a large role in the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law by the Congress in December 2010.

George Benjamin

Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., FACP, FNAPA, FACEP (E), Hon FRSPH., is a leader, practitioner and administrator in the world of public health. Benjamin has been the executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of public health professionals, since December 2002. He will address the graduating class of Meharry Medical College at 10 am on May 18 at the Grand Old Opry.

Jesse Jackson

At TSU, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. will deliver the university’s 2013 Spring Commencement Address on Saturday, May 11, outside in newly renovated Hale Stadium for the first time in nearly 40 years.