Clark Atlanta University (CAU) has announced it will hold a unique dual commencement ceremony honoring the classes of 2020 and 2021. Former gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is slated to speak to the Class of 2020 during the 8 a.m. ceremony while attorney and political commentator Bakari Sellers will address the Class of 2021 at 3 p.m.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the university held a virtual celebration for graduates last year. This year, the in-person graduation will take place on Clark Atlanta University’s campus on Saturday (May 15).
In a news release, University President Dr. George T. French, Jr. said school officials decided to have two ceremonies because they wanted to give the 2020 graduates the chance to walk across the stage. “They have earned the right to experience that moment surrounded by their classmates, family, and friends,” French said. He stated that the university’s goal is to prepare its students “to be globally competitive and to be successful contributors and trailblazers in their respective fields of study.”
“Hearing from Ms. Abrams and Mr. Sellers — two leaders who have already made a difference themselves — is a fitting way to send our students off fully prepared to take on the world,” he added.
Abrams, who spoke to graduates at Teachers College at Columbia University in April, said she was honored to “speak to the next generation of leaders” at CAU.
“I hope that my words serve as a source of encouragement for the graduates by reminding them of how they can use their education to uplift those who are often unseen and unheard and push our society forward,” she said.
Sellers became the youngest African American elected official in the nation in 2006 when he won a seat in the South Carolina State Legislature at 22 years old. He received his degree from Morehouse College in 2005, and remembers the pride he felt graduating from a historically Black college.
“As an HBCU graduate myself, I can distinctly recall the pride and excitement I felt when I graduated,” Sellers said. “I hope to share a sense of optimism with these remarkable students as we honor their great accomplishments and look ahead to their bright futures.”