GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and a renowned Baptist minister, will serve as Bennett College’s 2018 Baccalaureate speaker, officials have announced.
Baccalaureate will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 4, inside the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel on Bennett’s campus. The public is invited to attend.
“We are ecstatic to have the Reverend Jesse Jackson address our graduating seniors during their Baccalaureate Service,” said Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. “Reverend Jackson has been a champion for Civil Rights for more than half a century, and he made history when he ran for president of the United States in the 1980s. I’m certain Reverend Jackson will impart sage advice to our students, and I look forward to hosting him on our campus.”
Jackson merged his two non-profit organizations to form the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in 1996. The organization pursues social justice, civil rights and political activism.
Jackson will be introduced on May 4 by Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a labor economist, noted author, colorful commentator and syndicated columnist who served as the Fifteenth President of Bennett College from 2007 to 2012.
Jackson will speak at Bennett just three months after receiving a Lifetime Civil and Human Rights Award during the International Civil Rights Center and Museum’s annual gala. During his remarks, Jackson, a 1964 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, commended Bennett Belles for their participation in the sit-ins.
The Bennett College family is excited to have Jackson, an internationally known Civil Rights leader, deliver the Baccalaureate address. He was Student Body President at A&T, where he was also a quarterback on the football team. After graduating, he worked side-by-side with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was with King at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
A day after Jackson delivers Bennett’s Baccalaureate address inside the same Chapel where King spoke in February 1958, White House Correspondent and CNN Political Analyst April Ryan will deliver the College’s Commencement Address. Commencement begins at 10 a.m. on the Quadrangle on Bennett’s campus. The public is invited to attend.