Civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis to speak at commencement

| Senior News Editor

Civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis will serve as the commencement speaker for the class of 2016, Chancellor Mark Wrighton announced at the annual Senior Class Toast on March 30.

Lewis, who has represented Georgia’s fifth congressional district for 30 years, is also the only living member of the civil rights movement’s “Big Six.” The “Big Six,” which included civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., was composed of the leaders of the six organizations heavily involved in organizing the March on Washington in 1963.

The 155th Commencement ceremony will take place on May 20 in the Brookings Quadrangle. Lewis will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Wrighton expressed excitement in bringing a distinguished leader to campus for commencement.

“Congressman Lewis has been a great leader, a wonderful speaker and an advocate for civil rights for a long time,” Wrighton said. “I feel very fortunate that he has made the commitment to join us for this year’s commencement. And of course, race in America is a very important subject to us now, and having a luminary like Congressman Lewis will be a great addition to our commencement.”

He said he feels that Lewis is an excellent recipient for the honorary degree and commented on the popularity of the decision within the committee responsible for its selection.

“There was great enthusiasm from the committee, and I certainly believe that his leadership in this important area played a role in having him as a very popular choice,” Wrighton said. “We’re looking forward to a great commencement. Congressman Lewis is going to add significantly to the excitement around commencement, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Additional reporting by Emily Schienvar.