David Goodman, brother of slain civil-rights activist Andrew Goodman, told Queens College graduates his brother’s story is linked to them. Goodman, a Queens College student, was murdered in Mississippi in June 1964 along with two other civil rights workers. “Andy had the idea that he could be a meaningful participant in our democracy – an idea that flourished right here, at Queens College. So as you learn, so shall you serve,” Goodman said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams urged Brooklyn College graduates to explore the world in all its forms. “Go visit a mosque, or synagogue, or Buddhist temple,” said Adams, who served in the NYPD for 22 years and holds a B.A. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Understand how diversity helps us to develop our full personhood and become great people.”
Don’t let others define you. At the Lehman College 2015 commencement, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. recalled his first day in the New York State Assembly seated beside a new colleague who boasted of his Harvard degree. Diaz, up from the hardscrabble Bronx streets, didn’t miss a beat. “You got a degree from the Ivy League. I’m a CUNY-twofer. And here we are….sitting next to each other. So, either I’m a great success or you are just a terrible failure.”
Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell, Jr. told 2015 Hunter College graduates: “We’re fortunate to be Americans.” In a rousing speech at Madison Square Garden, Mitchell urged grads to oppose any action that denies a child an education. He also instructed them to speak out against all forms of discrimination and injustice. “Never forget that in the presence of evil, silence makes you an accomplice,” Mitchell said.
Nobel Laureate and City College alum John O’Keefe traces historic findings on the hippocampus and human memory to his recent research on the brain’s cognitive map. O’Keefe, along with two other scientists, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering an inner GPS in the brain that helps navigate surroundings. His engaging, and often humorous, discussion marked the inaugural Professor Sharon Cosloy-Edward Blank Family Distinguished Scientist Lecture at City College.
A few years after the Armenian genocide of 1915-16, several ex-leaders of the former Ottoman Empire met sudden violent deaths at the hands of assassins. Armenian-American actor Eric Bogosian tells the real-life cloak-and-dagger story behind these little-known historical events.
The LGBT movement has won some battles, but “victory blindness” threatens these gains, Michelangelo Signorile argues in “It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia and Winning True Equality.” Signorile talks about his ideas for the movement to stay on the offensive —- including bashing gay bashers — with journalist Dan Savage.
Marta Effinger-Crichlow’s book, “Staging Migrations Toward an American West: From Ida B. Wells to Rhodessa Jones”, delves into a century of westward migration by African-American women – migration that’s both physical and symbolic. She chairs African-American Studies and is associate professor of theater and literature at New York City College of Technology.
Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of the slain civil rights leader, told graduates of Medgar Evers College to “go out…and make it a better and stronger America.” In her stirring speech at Barclays Center, Evers-Williams said: “Show the way to those who are lost in the prejudice and racism that still exist in this country and…get your education.” Evers-Williams accepted a posthumous Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on behalf of her late husband.
The CUNY School of Public Health Graduation Recognition Ceremony is an annual event held to honor graduates and awardees from across the four campuses.
This year’s 5th annual Ceremony was held in the Gerald Lynch Theater at John Jay College. Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika, President of the American Public Health Association, was the keynote speaker.