Nearly 370 degree candidates, along with their families, friends and supporters; university faculty and administrators; special guests and members of the media, crowded the Talmadge L. Hill Field House for the third Winter Commencement Exercises of Morgan State University, on Dec. 18. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and longtime civil rights, human rights and political leader, gave the commencement address, urging the soon-to-be graduates in the audience to “keep marching” to overcome the social injustices of their time.
Honorary degrees conferred during the ceremonies recognized other important figures of the U.S. civil rights movement. Autherine Foster, who overcame opposition from local and state government and violent demonstrations in 1956 to become the first African American admitted to a white public school in Alabama — the University of Alabama — was awarded a Doctor of Public Service degree. The “Morgan student civil rights pioneers, 1947–1963,” were awarded Doctor of Laws degrees for their groundbreaking work in desegregation in Baltimore. Hundreds of Morgan students set a national precedent during that time with sit-ins and by subjecting themselves to mass arrests.
Morgan President David Wilson presented the Rev. Jackson with a presidential citation, the Distinguished Achievement Award, after the commencement address. The President’s Second Mile Award, an annual honor recognizing outstanding leadership and participation in student affairs, went to Khir Henderson, a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering graduate from Baltimore, MD. Bryan Asson of Baltimore, who received his Bachelor of Science degree in architecture and environmental design, was presented with the President’s Award for Creative Achievement.
Senior Class President Brittany Boddie-Palmer delivered the salute to the graduates, who included 65 master’s degree recipients and 17 recipients of doctoral degrees.