Bennett College is pleased to announce the speakers for the 2023 Commencement Ceremony and Baccalaureate Convocation.

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II – a highly respected leader, social justice advocate, and scholar – will deliver the Baccalaureate Convocation address for the class of 2023 on Friday, May 12, while Erika Alexander – a talented actress, activist, creator, and director – will serve as the 2023 Commencement Ceremony speaker on Saturday, May 13.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Baccalaureate Convocation Speaker

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II is a leading voice for moral activism and public policy. He serves as President and Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival. Dr. Barber is also a Bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, and Professor in the Practice of Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School.

Dr. Barber is the author of four books and served as president of the North Carolina NAACP from 2006-2017. Dr. Barber is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement and established Repairers of the Breach to train communities in moral movement building. In 2018, he co-anchored the relaunch of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

Rev. Dr. Barber’s work has gained national acclaim and he has been recognized for his leadership in social justice and civil rights. He is known for his powerful speeches, which inspire and challenge people to take action for justice and equality. Dr. Barber has also been awarded numerous honors, including the MacArthur Fellowship, the North Carolina Award for Public Service, and the National Council of Churches’ Faith and Leadership Award.

His work has been featured in major media outlets, such as The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC. Dr. Barber’s tireless advocacy for the poor and marginalized has made him a respected and influential leader in the U.S. and around the world.

Reverend Dr. Barber is the father of Bennett Belle Dr. Sharrelle Barber ’07.


The Baccalaureate Convocation will take place on Friday, May 12, 2023, at 6:00 p.m., in the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel on campus. The ceremony is open to the public.  

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Commencement Speaker

Erika is beloved for her iconic acting roles as Maxine Shaw (Living Single; garnering two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress/Comedy Series), “Linda Diggs” (Wutang: An American Saga), “Barb Ballard” (Run The World; nominated for NAACP Best Guest Actor), and most recently as “Meredith Lockhart” in (Swimming with Sharks), the critically acclaimed Apple+ series starring Elisabeth Moss.

Erika wears many hats; actress, trailblazing activist, entrepreneur, creator, producer and director — and is one of the country’s boldest, most daring, and powerful voices. As a creator, she recognizes the power of storytelling and believes that though content must be entertaining, stories have tremendous capacity to create impact and meaningful social change. As co-founder of Color Farm Media, with partner Ben Arnon, she is on a mission to bring greater equity, inclusion, and diverse representation to both media and electoral politics.

A critical thought leader on racial and gender equity and leadership, she serves as a board member for One Fair Wage and is highly involved with social and racial justice orgs; The Poor People’s Campaign, Color of Change, NAACP, UNCF and others.

She is also creator/writer/producer of 2022 Audible Original’s Best True Crime Series, and duPont Columbia award winner, “FINDING TAMIKA”, and producer of three time, EMMY nominated Best Documentary and winner NAACP Best Documentary, “JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE”.


The Bennett College Commencement Ceremony will take place on May 13, 11:00 a.m., on the Campus Quadrangle in the center of campus.

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