May 9, 2004: Headlines: COS - Turkey: Civil Rights: Herald Online: Winthrop University Commencement Speaker Turkey RPCV Elaine Jones urges scholars to fight for social justice

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Turkey: Special Report: Turkey RPCV and Civil Rights Activist Elaine Jones: May 9, 2004: Headlines: COS - Turkey: Civil Rights: Herald Online: Winthrop University Commencement Speaker Turkey RPCV Elaine Jones urges scholars to fight for social justice

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Winthrop University Commencement Speaker Turkey RPCV Elaine Jones urges scholars to fight for social justice

Winthrop University Commencement Speaker Turkey RPCV Elaine Jones urges scholars to fight for social justice

Winthrop University Commencement Speaker Turkey RPCV Elaine Jones urges scholars to fight for social justice

Winthrop graduates more than 600
Commencement speaker urges scholars to fight for social justice

By Lauren Hoyt The Herald
(Published May 9 2004)

While it was a milestone day for many Winthrop University graduates Saturday, commencement speaker Elaine R. Jones reminded them of another milestone in education: the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that said segregated schools were unconstitutional.

Jones, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which argued the landmark Supreme Court case in 1954, infused her vision for diversity and equality into an inspiring speech energetically delivered to the more than 600 graduates and their guests who filled Winthrop Coliseum.

She told students to continue to fight for social justice, and reminded them that armed with their degrees, they are "a gift" to their communities and the world.

During the commencement ceremony, awards were given by Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio to two professors and four students. The Distinguished Professor Award was given to Michael Williams, a professor in the music department. The award is the highest honor given to a faculty member. Scott Huffmon, an assistant professor of political science, received the Outstanding Junior Professor Award for his commitment to inspired teaching, creative scholarship and dedication to students.

The Holly Self Drummond Award was given to graduate Michelle Reneé Lambright Black for her academic excellence and community service. Three Tillman Awards were given out to Heather Lynea Fitzgerald, Rebecca O'Neill Sims and Gary Keith Jennings Jr. The award is given to those with the highest grade point average.

Jones also received a Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony. She was honored for her involvement in the civil rights movement through her more than 32-year law career.

She became president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Legal Defense Fund in 1993 and is the first woman to head the organization. The Fund's focus in on education, voting rights, economic access and criminal justice, though she has expanded its litigation into such areas as health care and environmental justice.

She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Howard University. She then joined the Peace Corps and was one of the first Blacks to serve in Turkey. She is a graduate of University of Virginia Law School, where she was the first black woman to receive a law degree.

She has been a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics and has served as guest lecturer at law schools around the country and overseas. She also participates in conferences, seminars and panels on issues concerning women, blacks, other people of color and equal justice under the law.

From her life's work, she learned the value of diversity, and urged its significance to the graduates. "It is important that you reach across the lines," she said, then cited instances in how diversity encourages business growth and societal interaction.

"Get involved. Give back," she urged graduates. "And don't forget to have a great life."

Lauren Hoyt 329-4079 lhoyt@heraldonline.com




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Story Source: Herald Online

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Turkey; Civil Rights

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