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HBCU Education

Sen. Kamala Harris, Janelle Monae and, yes, Betsy DeVos are among HBCU graduation speakers

Others include former Vice President Joe Biden, Laila Ali and ESPN President John Skipper

Graduations at the country’s historically black universities and colleges (HBCUs) are underway, with most of them beginning this weekend.

The headliners include U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris at Howard University; actress and singer Janelle Monae at Dillard University; Donna Brazile, interim Democratic National Committee chairwoman, at Miles College; Van Jones at Morehouse College; former Vice President Joe Biden at Morgan State; Laila Ali at North Carolina A&T University; and Iyanla Vanzant at the University of the Virgin Islands.

The most controversial speaker is U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who will address Bethune-Cookman University graduates on May 10. University President Edison O. Jackson, who invited DeVos, defended the choice against criticism from the school community and others, although two online petitions are pushing the school to rescind the invitation.

Jackson, writing in the Orlando Sentinel, said, “I am especially sensitive to balancing the notion of academic freedom with quelling potentially hateful and harmful rhetoric. The political and racial chasms in our county have deepened, and college presidents have struggled with these issues over the past few months. Some have rescinded invitations to potentially controversial speakers.”

Here is a list of speakers. Some schools didn’t respond to questions or haven’t announced who their speakers will be.

School Date Speaker
Alabama A&M University May 5 Pamela Moore McDonald
Alabama State University May 13 Dr. John F. Knight
Albany State University May 14 Karol Mason, Barbara Rivera Holmes
Alcorn State University May 6 Jay Harris
Allen University May 6 Sen. Tim Scott
Arkansas Baptist College May 6 TBA
Benedict College May 13 Dr. David H. Swinton
Bennett College May 6 U.S. Rep. Alma Adams
Bethune-Cookman University May 10 Betsy DeVos
Bishop State Community College May 11 TBA
Bluefield State College May 13 Dr. Jesse Calloway
Bowie State University May 23 Mickey L. Burnim (president of the university)
Central State University May 6 Jennifer Benjamin Pinckney
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania May 13 Gov. Tom Wolf
Claflin University May 12 Emanuel Cleaver II
Clark Atlanta University May 22 William Pickard
Coahoma Community College May 13 TBA
Concordia College May 13 Judge Greg Mathis
Coppin State University May 20 TBA
Delaware State University May 13 Lisa Blunt Rochester
Dillard University May 13 Janelle Monae
Edward Waters College May 6 TBA
Elizabeth City State University May 13 U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield
Fayetteville State University May 13 Ret. Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray
Fisk University May 1 Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook
Florida A&M University April 28-29 Arnold Donald, Roslyn M. Brock, Thomas W. Dortch Jr.
Florida Memorial University May 13 Sheryl Underwood
Fort Valley State University May 6 Karen Kendrick
Gadsden State Community College May 4 TBA
Grambling State University May 12 Johnny Taylor Jr
Hampton University May 14 Katherine Johnson
Harris-Stowe State University May 13 TBA
Howard University May 13 U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris
Huston-Tillotson University May 6 Zan Wesley Holmes Jr.
Interdenominational Theological Center May 13 Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr.
J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College May 11 TBA
Jackson State University Undergraduate: April 29; Graduate: April 30 Demarco Morgan/ Mike Espy
Jarvis Christian College May 6 Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III
Johnson C. Smith University May 21 TBA
Kentucky State University May 13 Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Lane College April 28 Rev. Peris J. Lester
Langston University May 13 Kavaris Sims
Lawson State Community College Birmingham Campus May 13 Lawrence J. DeLucas
Le Moyne-Owen College May 13 Willie W. Herenton
Lincoln University May 13 Dr. Kevin Rome Sr.
Lincoln University of Pennsylvania May 12 Roger W. Ferguson Jr.
Livingstone College May 6 Suzan Johnson Cook
Meharry Medical College May 20 Tom Joyner
Miles College May 6 Donna Brazile
Mississippi Valley State University May 6 Claude Perkins
Morehouse College May 6 Van Jones
Morehouse School of Medicine May 20 U.S. Rep. John Lewis
Morgan State University May 20 Former Vice President Joe Biden
Morris College May 6 Dorothy Cowser Yancy
Norfolk State University May 6 Nina Turner
North Carolina A & T State University May 13 Laila Ali
North Carolina Central University Graduate & Professional, May 12 Undergraduate, May 13 Mike Morgan/Joan Higginbotham
Oakwood University May 13 Dr. Leon Wilson
Paine College May 7 Lester Jackson
Paul Quinn College May 6 Michael Ellison
Philander Smith College May 5 Rev. Phillip Pointer
Prairie View A&M University May 13 Ricky Anderson
Rust College April 30 Dr. Harold R. Wilde
Saint Augustine’s University May 13 Lamell McMorris
Savannah State University May 13 Traci Adams
Selma University May 12 Dr. Kenneth Culley
Shaw University May 13 Tom Joyner Jr.
Shelton State Community College May 4 Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox
Shorter College May 13 TBA
South Carolina State University May 12 TBA
Southern University and A & M College May 12 Mninwa Mahlangu
Southern University at New Orleans May 13 Sally Ann Roberts
Southern University at Shreveport May 16 Rebecca Sykes
Southwestern Christian College May 13 Dr. Richard Barclay
Spelman College May 21 Valerie Jarrett
St. Philip’s College May 12 Paula Boggs
Stillman College May 13 Melissa Bishop-Murphy
Talladega College May 14 TBA
Tennessee State University May 6 Tom Joyner
Texas College May 6 TBA
Texas Southern University May 13 TBA
Tougaloo College May 7 W. Randall Pinkston
Trenholm State Technical College May 12 U.S. Rep. Terri A. Sewell
Tuskegee University May 13 ESPN President John Skipper
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff May 13 Phylicia Rashad
University of Maryland Eastern Shore May 26 Rushern L. Baker III
University of the District of Columbia May 13 Sheila C. Johnson, co-founder of BET
University of the Virgin Islands May 11 & 12 Iyanla Vanzant
Virginia State University May 13 Jeff Johnson
Virginia Union University May 13 Gov. Terry McAuliffe
Virginia University of Lynchburg May 6 Shirley Strawberry
Voorhees College May 6 Jasmine Guy
West Virginia State University May James Hoyer
Wilberforce University May 6 TBA
Wiley College May 6 TBA
Winston-Salem State University May 19 Bakari Sellers
Xavier University of Louisiana May 13 U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond