Medgar Evers' Dr. Jackson In Final Commencement

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“Now that we have Obama as president, he can leave the presidency of Medgar Evers College,” Senator Schumer joked, of Dr. Jackson.

 [Education: Graduation]

A combination of elation and sadness could best describe Medgar Evers College's commencement speech this year.

“Today each of you graduates leaves with the knowledge and the wisdom to become intentional agents of change,” College President Edison O. Jackson said to the Class of 2009.

It was the institution’s Thirty-Eighth Commencement exercise, on Saturday, June 6, 2009. It was Dr. Jackson's final commencement ceremony. He delivered welcoming remarks to a packed amphitheater filled with 958 graduates and their families, faculty and staff, CUNY Board of Trustee members, as well as VIP guests and elected officials.

The prominent politicos included U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, NYC Councilman Al Vann, NYC Councilman Charles Barron, NYC Councilmember Tish James, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, amongst others. 

This year’s theme was “Educated and Empowered to Excel.” Harkening back to his graduate school mentor’s advice to him, President Jackson entreated the new degree-holders to “make your world a better place than you found it.”

“Never could I have imagined that day when I became leader of this institution that I would lead for 20 years,” added Dr. Jackson, who is the longest serving College President in the 23-institution City University of New York system.

He received a standing ovation in recognition of his years of visionary leadership. Before his own remarks to the graduates, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer led the crowd in chants of “Thank You” to Dr. Jackson.

“Now that we have Obama as president, he can leave the presidency of Medgar Evers College,” Senator Schumer joked, of Dr. Jackson.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz praised Dr. Jackson as “the very model of what a college president should be” before giving him a symbolic Brooklyn gift of Junior’s restaurant delicacies. One of the College’s original founders, Councilman Al Vann heralded Dr. Jackson for realizing the dreams and intentions of those individuals who advocated for the creation of the institution 40 years prior. “The founders are pleased,” he said.

Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder and publisher of Black Enterprise; and Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, received Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters.

“It was Dr. Jackson who spearheaded the successful restoration of Medgar Evers’ senior college status and who raised standards for students and educators alike,” said Graves in his moving keynote address. “It was Dr. Jackson who made it his personal mission to transform Medgar Evers into a 21st century school that would prepare students for 21st century challenges. Well, Dr. Jackson mission accomplished.”

As an educator, a community advocate and an administrator, President Jackson has contributed greatly to the edification of the people of Medgar Evers College, CUNY and the Central Brooklyn community that the institution faithfully serves.

Dr. Jackson was born in Heathsville, Virginia. He received the Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology, the Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Howard University, and the Doctorate in Education from Rutgers University with academic emphasis on the philosophy, function, role and administration of urban educational institutions.

He assumed the presidency of Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York in 1989.

Medgar Evers College was founded in 1969 through the efforts from educators and community leaders in central Brooklyn.

The College is named after Medgar Wiley Evers, a Mississippi-born Black civil rights activist who was assassinated on June 12, 1963.


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