Numerous influential figures to speak at HBCU commencements

Updated: Apr. 12, 2018 at 3:29 PM CDT
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(WAFB) - Students at regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) can look forward to Angela Rye, Chance the Rapper, and others confirmed as spring commencement speakers.

Locally, Angela Rye returns as speaker for Southern University's spring graduation. Rye previously presented Southern's "Empowerment Seminar" in March to a mixed audience of students and community members. Parts of her speech then, distinguishes what she describes as "staying woke" from being "work woke."

"Work woke to me is about applying all of the knowledge that you've gained to putting your hands to our overall advancement. It's about ensuring that we are moving the needle on the things that we say we truly believe. It's about putting work and attaching your faith to it and getting up and acting. It's not about what we feel or see. It's about believing that things can be better and that we have an important role in making this things better."

Rye, a former executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress, now serves as principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. She mirrors former mentor U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, who also visited Baton Rouge in March, with regular media appearances that result in viral clips and witticisms. Rye brings "that same energy" to Southern University's F.G. Clark Activity Center on May 11.

Multi-Grammy Award winning rapper, songwriter, and philanthropist, Chance the Rapper, is confirmed to speak at Dillard University in New Orleans.

"He's the artist that your grandmother would love," university president Walter Kimbrough said. "I thought he made for a great commencement speaker because of his spirit of being entrepreneurial and authentic, but his civic engagement, including encouraging people to vote and willingness to speak out on issues, like his recent opposition to a Heineken ad, are just as paramount."

Dillard regularly brings in influencers and performers to participate in the President's Lecture Series, "Brain Food," which has featured Gabrielle Union and Remy Ma, among others. More than 200 graduates will hear from Chance on May 12 at Avenue of the Oaks on Dillard's campus.

Award-winning New York Times investigative journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, will deliver the commencement address at the New Orleans-based Xavier University of Louisiana. Founder and president of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a news trade organization dedicated to increasing the ranks of investigative reporters of color, Hannah-Jones will join university president, Reynold Verret, in honoring Dr. Norman C. Francis, President Emeritus of the University, who will be awarded an honorary degree. Hannah-Jones speaks in the university's convocation Center on Saturday, May 12.

At Southern University of New Orleans, Antonio "Tony" Clayton will serve as Commencement speaker. Managing partner of the Clayton, Frugé and Ward Law Firm in Port Allen, Louisiana. Clayton also serves on the Southern University System Board of Supervisors. SUNO's commencement is scheduled at 4 p.m. May 12 in the Kiefer Lakefront Arena.

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