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2009 Commencement Commemorated QC’S Legacy of Civil Rights Activism with John Lewis as Keynote Speaker

Approximately 2,200 graduates out of an estimated audience of 11,000 braved rain and unseasonable cold to receive their degrees at Queens College’s 85th commencement on Thursday, May 28, 2009.  The inclement weather did not dampen the spirits of the attendees who gave the keynote speaker, U.S. Congressman (Georgia’s 5th District) John Lewis, a rousing standing ovation when he came up to the podium to receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters from QC’s President James Muyskens.John Lewis FYI cover image

Congressman Lewis, one of the “Big Six Leaders” of the Civil Rights Movement, has dedicated and risked his life to protect human rights and secure civil liberties.  It seemed fitting that he addressed 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 who were brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during the Freedom Summer of 1964.  Seated in the VIP section were many QC alumni and former faculty members who, like Congressman Lewis, were veterans of the Civil Rights Movement and fought against racial injustice in the American South during the 1960s.

Also honored was 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, who was awarded the Queens College President’s Medal.  Holzer 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.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressman Anthony Weiner and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall brought greetings to the graduates.  Steven Appel, editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Knight News, was the student commencement speaker.

More than 500 people in the U.S. tuned in to watch the webcast of commencement – a 51% increase over last year – as well as viewers from countries around the world, including Nepal, Tunisia, Latvia and the United Arab Emirates.  



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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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