Graduation season is such a memorable time for so many families across the country. For HBCU students especially, graduation can be one of the most rewarding and special times for these young black men and women.
Many things go into creating a successful graduation day, but one of the most important is having a notable commencement speaker that students look up to.
Listening to a great commencement speech is a right of passage. Young black students get to be inspired by a voice of success and achievement, hopefully enhancing lifelong memories.
In 2018, before he passed, the late Chadwick Boseman delivered Howard University’s 150th commencement. It was one of the most inspirational speeches on all of the internet. Not only did his message inspire the students of Howard, but it also inspired millions of young adults all over the world.
This year the legacy of great HBCU commencement speakers continues and hopefully, more young brilliant minds can be moved.
The most notable HBCU commencement speaker for the class of 2022 is Vice President Kamala Harris. The sitting Vice President will be traveling to Tennessee State University to give her speech to the students. It will likely be a memory that these students won’t soon forget.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin will also be on campus for a segment of Tennessee State students.
“We are excited to have the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, and Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, two trailblazers, and history makers, deliver the keynote address for our commencement ceremonies,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover in a statement.
“Commencement marks a major milestone in our students’ lives, but to have the Vice President of the United States as your guest speaker makes this moment even more special for our students and their families. I believe they will also appreciate the fact that both Vice President Harris and Mayor Woodfin are HBCU graduates, a testament to the caliber of students TSU and other HBCUs produce. The TSU family looks forward to both ceremonies and featured speakers.”
Vice President Harris and Mayor Woodfin are some of the most noteworthy figures to grace commencement stages at HBCUs this year. However, there are more significant names that are looking to address the HBCU class of 2022.
Today, we are taking a look at the top 10 HBCU commencement speakers, including Harris and Woodfin, that will be on campuses at these historic institutions over the next couple of weeks.
1. Kamala Harris – Tennessee State University.
On May 7th, Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Nashville to give the commencement address at Tennessee State University. The Vice President’s attendance will signify a historic time on Tennessee State’s campus and further highlight the increasing visibility of HBCUs. As many already know, Harris graduated from another HBCU, Howard University, so her return back to HBCU culture will be noteworthy.
Also, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin will be addressing the graduate students at TSU on May 6th.
2. Taraji P. Henson – Howard University
The talented Taraji P. Henson will be gracing Howard’s stage for their commencement ceremonies. Henson, who has become one of the most notable actresses in the entertainment industry, was once a student herself at the DC-based HBCU. Henson will give her commencement speech to the graduating class on May 7th.
3. Stacey Abrams – Spelman College
Stacey Abrams is an alumna of Spelman College and now the powerful politician, author, and change maker will give the commencement speech at the same institution she graduated from in 1995. Abrams will give her commencement address on May 15th.
4. Raphael Warnock – Morehouse College
Raphael Warnock is an alumnus of Morehouse College and the Georgia Senator will be going back to his alma mater to give the commencement address on May 15th. Warnock is not far removed from winning one of the most pivotal Georgia senate races in history and playing a vital role in shifting political power in congress.
5. Sunny Hostin – North Carolina A&T State University
The three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and co-host of ABC’s hit show “The View” will be the keynote speaker in Greensboro, North Carolina for North Carolina A&T’s graduation. Sunny Hostin will give the speech on May 14th as North Carolina A&T graduates a record number of students in their spring commencement.
6. Malik Yoba – Livingstone College
Famous actor Malik Yoba will address Livingstone College’s graduating class on May 14th. Yoba has appeared in a plethora of movies including Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married and Why Did I Get Married Too.
7. James E. Clyburn – Voorhees University
The Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina will give the commencement speech at Voorhees College on May 7th.
8. Darren Walker – Prairie View A&M
Darren Walker is the President of the Ford Foundation, a nonprofit organization that recently issued a social bond of up to $1 billion to support the social justice sector. Walker will speak to the class of 2022 at Prairie View A&M on May 14th.
9. Thasunda Brown Duckett and Homer Wilkes – Jackson State University
Thasunda Brown Duckett is the TIAA President and CEO and was the keynote speaker for the graduate student ceremony that transpired on April 29th. Homer Wilkes, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, was the commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremonies on April 30th.
10. Ken T. Welch and Sybil Crum – Florida A&M University
Ken T. Welch, who is a Florida A&M alum and the mayor of St. Petersburg. addressed graduates on April 29 and Disneyland Resort Vice President for Marketing and Commercial Strategy Sybil Crum addressed students on April 30.