BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and U.S. State Department strategist Johanna LeBlanc are the keynotes speakers at Bethune-Cookman University’s spring commencement on Saturday, May 11.
Crump will speak at the 9 a.m. commencement service while LeBlanc will address graduates at the 3 p.m. service.
Both ceremonies will be held at the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center, 698 International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach.
Crump will speak to graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Nursing while LeBlanc will address graduates of the School of Graduate Studies, College of Health Science, School of Religion, School of Performing Arts & Communication, College of Business & Entrepreneurship, College of Education, College of Science, Engineering & Math and School of Hospitality Management.
‘Enlighten and encourage’
“Attorney Crump is a nationally acclaimed attorney who has been involved in high-profile cases affecting modern-day civil rights concerns and has been a friend of the university for years,” stated B-CU Interim President Hubert Grimes.
He added, “Attorney LeBlanc is a young alumna who has distinguished herself in the field of international relations serving as a senior advisor to Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S. & Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Both speakers are sure to deliver addresses that will enlighten and encourage our graduates to think big and dream big as they embark on their careers and invest in their life’s plans that have the potential to touch the nation and the world as Crump and LeBlanc have and continue to do successfully.”
Crump: National legal leader
Crump is one of the nation’s foremost attorneys on civil rights and social justice. He has represented clients in some of the highest profile cases in the country, recovering millions of dollars in damages. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Robbie Tolan are a few of his high-profile cases.
The Tolan case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. It involved Tolan and 10 of the 13 Black women who were victims in the Holtzc law Oklahoma City Police rape case in 2015.
Crump is president of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Civilization and Board Chair of Legal Services of North Florida.
He also is the executive director of the documentary, “Women in Motion” and host of docudramas “Evidence of Innocence” on TV One and “The Search for Justice” on A&E. Crump also appears on Fox’s “You the Jury” and several other legal-related shows and television series.
LeBlanc: State Department adviser
LeBlanc received her bachelor’s in political science from Bethune-Cookman.
In her current post with the State Department, she promotes the interest of Haiti to the U.S.
She also advises the State Department on foreign affairs and immigration-related issues. Her job includes advising the nation on domestic and foreign politics.
LeBlanc has worked on promoting better environmental practices, women’s rights issues both nationally and internationally, and raising awareness about housing issues in regards to immigrants.
She has served the nation working in Asia and both southern and western Africa.
LeBlanc also served on the Military Observation Commission Project, which reported on military war crimes in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
She also appears as a political and foreign affairs analyst on several major national news outlets.
‘Warm and intimate setting’
The commencement services are being held on campus for the second consecutive year. In more recent years, they were held at the Ocean Center.
“Commencement is the culmination of our students’ college careers. Having this on campus provides an opportunity for our graduates’ family and friends to visit and tour the campus, many for the first time as well as meet faculty and staff who’ve been their loved ones’ family away from home,” Grimes noted.
“The warm and intimate setting leaves students with a lasting and memorable experience of their alma mater. Many choose to take commencement-day photos against the backdrop of the iconic statue of founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, visit their respective schools, The Quad, their Greek plot and more. Each is a brief walk from the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center.’’
B-CU is also having two different ceremonies for the second straight year.
“Two ceremonies allow us to accommodate each graduate and up to eight ticketed guests. The venue has a capacity to hold 2,500,” Grimes added.
The events will both be streamed live.
For more information about B-CU’s spring commencement, visit www.cookman.edu.
Service of Consecration May 8, 7 p.m. Gertrude Hotchkiss Heyn Chapel, White Hall Speaker: The Rev. Dr. Darian Mitchell, Bethune-Cookman University Graduate
Candlelight Wreath Laying Ceremony (Immediately following the Service of Consecration)
Nursing Pinning Ceremony May 9, 7 p.m. Gertrude Hotchkiss Heyn Chapel, White Hall
President’s Day Party for graduates May 10, 2 to 6 p.m. Holmes Building entrance