WILBERFORCE — As intellectuals get ready to go out into the world they first will be honored with the special occasion of graduation. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., will be the keynote speaker for the 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3 graduation ceremony while the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson will speak at the 10:30 a.m. baccalaureate service.
“We are just so excited,” said acting President Dr. Wilma Mishoe. “(the Rev. Jesse Jackson) has exemplified everything the mission of Wilberforce has ever stood for.”
Getting such a high-profile keynote speaker is no easy task but Wilberforce was able to get one of the most-visible activists in the United States.
“He did not hesitate to say yes,” Mishoe said. “The only thing he had to do was to make sure his calendar was clear. I really think that that’s a statement in and of itself of how much he does think of Wilberforce University. We weren’t doing it for any particular notoriety. We brought someone who we feel had the best message for our graduates.”
Jackson’s main work has has been his commitment to youth around the world. He has visited thousands of high schools, colleges, universities and correctional facilities encouraging excellence, inspiring hope and challenging young people to study diligently and stay drug-free.
When word spread around campus that Jackson was the keynote speaker it was greeted at first with skepticism.
“First of all (students) didn’t believe it,” Mishoe said. “They said ‘What Jesse Jackson?’ When we started showing the actual pictures, they really did start getting on the bandwagon. The excitement is just mounting.”
The Rev. Reginald Jackson was elected and on July 4 consecrated the 132nd Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was assigned to the Twentieth Episcopal District (Malawi and Zimbabwe) and as the Ecumenical and Urban Affairs Officer. He is also chair of the Social Action Commission.
The graduation celebrations will take place in the University’s Alumni Multiplex. Graduating seniors are excited about this celebration and are working hard to finish up the journeys they have begun. The public is invited and welcomed to attend both events.