Vernon Jordan '57 Addresses Syracuse Graduates Sunday
May 9, 2017
"In the 60 years since Vernon Jordan Jr. graduated college, he’s helped the first black students gain admission to the University of Georgia, led voter registration drives in the Jim Crow South and survived an assassination attempt by a white supremacist," begins an article in the Daily Orange, Syracuse University's student newspaper. "But he still acknowledges that there’s plenty of work to be done regarding civil rights in the United States. 'We’ve come a long way, but we still have a lot ahead of us in making equal opportunity a reality for everybody,' Jordan said.
The story previews Jordan's commencement speech at Syracuse Sunday. The civil rights legend and 1957 DePauw University graduate will also receive an honorary doctorate at the ceremony, which will take place in the Carrier Dome.
Jordan Muller writes, "In his speech, Jordan said he may share with the graduating class some of his experiences as a civil rights leader. Because 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of Jordan’s graduation from DePauw University, he said he may compare life for today’s graduating class with what life was like for him in 1957."
"A lot has happened in the reign of civil rights since 1957, and I was privileged to be a part of it," Vernon Jordan tells the paper. "It may be appropriate that I share some of that."
He says that issues of equality remain in 2017 America. "We still have not come to the point where we can ignore it."
Access the complete text here.
Vernon E. Jordan Jr. is a senior managing director of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC (NYSE: LAZ), and is senior counsel with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. He is the former executive director of the United Negro College Fund, former president of the National Urban League, and has been a longtime adviser to President Bill Clinton. (above left: Jordan with President Clinton at DePauw; November 18, 2011)
A political science major as an undergraduate, Jordan is an advisory member of DePauw's Board of Trustees and has twice presented the commencement address at his alma mater, in 1973 and 1993. In December 2009, he was one of eight individuals presented with the Du Bois Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Harvard University Institute of Politics' W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. His other numerous awards include the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP's highest honor for achievement, and the Trumpet Award. In 2014 he received The American Lawyer magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Last October, Jordan returned to campus to deliver the keynote address at the inauguration of DePauw's twentieth president, D. Mark McCoy. The remarks were presented as part of the Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture Series, and are embedded below.
"DePauw expanded my mind, broadened my horizons, lifted my sights and prepared me to serve and to lead," Jordan said in his address, recalling that he was the only African American in his class. "While I came here to learn political science and history, it was also an opportunity to learn about people I did not know and people who did not know me. So while I learned a lot here I also taught a lot, just by the very fact of my presence."
He added, "While I loved DePauw when I was a student, I love DePauw more today because of the way it has changed. Today's DePauw is more diverse, more open, more in tune with what America is and can become."
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