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June 2 Commencement Theme: Justice for '64 Murder Of QC Student and Civil Rights Worker Andy Goodman


Maria Terrone
Executive Director of Communications
(718) 997-5591

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
(718) 997-5593

Attention, Editors: For 9 am, Thursday, June 2, 2005



-- Journalist Whose Work Led to Murder Indictment of Former Klansman to Deliver Commencement Address; The Philadelphia (Mississippi) Coalition, a Multiracial Group, Also Will Be Honored; Dr. Carolyn Goodman, Mother of Slain Student, Will Speak --

WHAT: The 81st Commencement of Queens College (CUNY)
DATE: Thursday, June 2, 2005
TIME: 9 am
PLACE: Campus Quad, Queens College
65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, New York
(LIE Exit 24 from points east; LIE Exit 23 from points west)

Speaker: Jerry Mitchell, reporter for The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), whose investigative work helped lead to the arrest of Edgar Ray Killen for the Klan's 1964 killings of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman (a Queens College student), James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. The murder of these courageous young men, who were attempting to register African Americans to vote during the Freedom Summer of 1964, was portrayed in the 1989 film Mississippi Burning. Killen goes on trial June 13 under the first murder charge brought in this 41-year-old crime. President's Medals will be awarded to Mitchell and the Philadelphia (Miss.) Coalition. Leroy Clemons, co-chairman, will accept on behalf of this multiracial community organization that advocated the reopening of this case. Dr. Carolyn Goodman, the mother of Andrew Goodman, will also speak. Dr. Goodman, who established a foundation for civil rights and social justice named after her son, received the President's Medal from Queens College in 1996. During the ceremony, bells will ring from the college's landmark Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner Clock Tower.

Background Bios:
Jerry Mitchell, a 46-year-old investigative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger, has won 14 national awards for work that helped lead to the arrests and convictions of Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers; Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers for ordering the fatal firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer in 1966; and Bobby Cherry for the 1963 bombing of an African American church in Birmingham that killed four girls. Most recently, his work led to Killen’s arrest in the Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner murder.

The Philadelphia Coalition is a community organization of blacks, whites and Choctaw Indians who came together in 2004 and began working on a number of important projects -- commemorating the 40th anniversary of the murder of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney, advocating for legislation to rename a state highway after the slain trio, incorporating the history of the civil rights movement in the public schools and spearheading the production of a pamphlet that recognizes the contributions of African Americans in the community. Most important, the coalition met with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and called for justice in the killings.

Leroy Clemons, co-chairman of the Philadelphia Coalition, was born in Mississippi in 1962. He holds a B.S. from Mississippi State University and also serves as president of the Neshoba County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

A Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be awarded to William Ungar. Ungar escaped a Nazi extermination camp although 60 members of his family, including his wife and son, perished. He chronicles his story in the hope-filled book, Destined to Live (2000). Founder, president, and CEO of the National Envelope Corporation, the largest privately owned envelope producer in North America, Ungar is being recognized for his remarkable achievements in business and philanthropy, and his lifelong commitment to Holocaust memory, higher education, and the fostering of tolerance and understanding among people of all backgrounds. His many awards include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the American Business Achievement Award and New York City Entrepreneur of the Year. Ungar is also a member of the Executive Advisory Board of the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College.

Student speaker: Adina Leon. An art major who plans to attend medical school, Adina Leon is a Renaissance woman. She is a member of the CUNY Honors College at Queens College—a highly competitive program for the very best students. Through this program, she received free tuition, a $7,500 “academic grant” which she used for study in Florence, a laptop computer, and many other benefits. In addition to carrying a 20-credit course load, Adina found the time to become certified as a critical care Emergency Medical Technician and a “Class A” Interior Firefighter, and is also certified in Hazardous Materials Operations. She is a member of the fencing team, plays guitar, and began a club, Knitting It Together, which makes blankets and clothing for the homeless and hospital-bound. A resident of West Hempstead, Long Island, Adina attended Hebrew Academy of Nassau County before enrolling at Queens College. Her mother and sister are also graduates of the college.

President James Muyskens will preside over the ceremony, which is expected to draw an audience of 10,000, including 2,000 graduates receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Commencement will be Webcast online (, enabling students’ relatives from around the world to watch the entire ceremony live—an advantage post 9/11, with international visits to the U.S. now increasingly difficult. (Students from more than 140 nations attend Queens College, one of the nation’s most diverse.)

In the 2006 edition of The Princeton Review America’s Best Value Colleges, Queens College ranks #8 in the nation—a rating based on outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages and relatively low costs.

MEDIA SIGN IN: tent to the right of the stage. Media seats will be clearly marked in the front, facing the stage.


 Office Information

Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B
(718) 997-5593

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