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College officials announced Tuesday that Washington will address about 5,000 graduates and receive an honorary degree at the May 16 ceremony.
Washington’s son Malcolm is a sophomore at the Ivy League school in Philadelphia.
Penn President Amy Gutmann says the 56-year-old star of “Malcolm X,” “Glory” and “Philadelphia” has “used his tremendous talent as an actor to bring the most significant social and historical issues into the limelight.” She also praised Washington for his work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Author Joyce Carol Oates and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof are among several others also slated to receive honorary degrees at the ceremony.