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85th Commencement will Commemorate College's Legacy of Civil Rights Activism with John Lewis As Keynote Speaker
WHAT:  The 85th Commencement of Queens College of the City University of New York
WHO:   Over 2,200 degree candidates expected to attend, including students from the classes of September 2008, February and May 2009, and prospective September 2009 graduates. Total audience, including graduates, will number more than 11,000.
DATE:     Thursday, May 28, 2009, rain or shine
TIME:  9 am
PLACE:   Campus Quad, Queens College
65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, New York

Media sign-in
tent will be to the right of the stage. Media seats will be clearly marked on right-hand side of the first row facing the stage.  Media parking is available: Please bring press ID. You must arrive at the main security gate on Kissena Boulevard before 8:30 am to receive on-campus parking. 


John Lewis, U.S. Congressman (Georgia’s 5th District) and one of the “Big Six Leaders” of the Civil Rights Movement will address the graduates and receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters. Congressman Lewis, who stood only feet away from Barack Obama on January 20 as he took the U.S. Presidential oath of office, has dedicated and risked his life to protecting human rights and securing civil liberties. As co-founder and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he organized voter registration drives and community action programs during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer and the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Born the son of sharecroppers outside of Troy, Alabama, Lewis grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools. He is the recipient of numerous humanitarian awards, including the only “Profile in Courage Award” for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Congressman Lewis will address the crowd in the shadow of the campus clock tower named for James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and QC student Andrew Goodman, the three young Civil Rights workers whose brutal murder by members of the Ku Klux Klan during the Freedom Summer of 1964 forced the nation to confront the savagery of the struggle for racial justice in the American South.

Special Note:  Many QC alumni and former faculty members who are veterans of the Civil Rights Movement will march in the procession wearing special sashes.  They will be seated together in the VIP section and recognized by Queens College President James Muyskens from the stage for their contribution to the struggle. This group will include alumnus Mark Levy ’64, who recently donated his personal collection of Civil Rights Movement memorabilia to the Rosenthal Library.

Harold Holzer, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Co-Chair of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, will receive the Queens College President’s Medal. Holzer, a prolific writer and lecturer, has authored, co-authored and edited 33 books and over 400 articles and lectured throughout the country as a leading authority on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. Holzer was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2008 by President George W. Bush. A former journalist, he served as press secretary for both Bella Abzug and Mario Cuomo.Electronic images are available of Congressman Lewis and Harold Holzer.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressman Anthony Weiner and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall will bring greetings to the graduates.
The student commencement speaker is Steven Appel. As editor-in-chief of the college’s student newspaper The Knight News, Appel led the publication to national recognition with the receipt of 12 awards, most recently the 2008 New York Press Association Award for General Excellence. The paper was also a two-time finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press Association’s Pacemaker Award, the most prestigious in college journalism. Appel, who majored in political science and anthropology, has volunteered at the Salaam Center, Ezbet el-Nakhal, in Cairo, Egypt, where he worked on a proposal for a new school. As the recipient of the Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Scholarship Program in Government and Public Affairs, he interned for Senator Charles E. Schumer in Washington, D.C., while volunteering his free time at the House of Ruth, an organization that helps abused women and children. The founder of the college’s chapter of STAND, the student-led anti-genocide coalition, he has also served as a tour leader at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, where he taught public school students about 20th-century Jewish life, conflict resolution and the challenges of preventing genocide. 

Appel is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha and Phi Alpha Theta (the National Political Science and History Honor Societies respectively), Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Key International Honors Society.  He plans to work for a year or two before pursuing a joint law and Master of Arts degree in international relations.  Ultimately, he hopes to pursue a career in public office.


 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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