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Rep. John Lewis to Hampton Graduates: ‘Get in the Way’

By Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Hampton University
On June 1, 2015
Congressman John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis tells Hampton graduates to “find a way to get in the way.”
Trice Edney News Wire

( - U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has told 847 Hampton University graduates that it’s their moral obligation to do what they can to bring about positive change in the world.

“You have to find a way to get in the way. Get in good trouble. Use it to bring about a non-violent revolution,” Lewis said. The 29-year veteran congressman and iconic civil rights leader has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls the “The Beloved Community in America.”

He pulled from his own background in youth activism. A leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, at 25 Lewis was among those attacked and injured by Georgia state troopers as he led the historic March 7, 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. At age 23, he was also the youngest keynote speaker at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963.

Lewis urged the HU Class of 2015 to go out and help those who are left behind. “You have a mission, a mandate and a moral obligation to do what you can.”

The ceremony at Hampton’s Armstrong Stadium in Hampton, Va. was bathed with sunny skies and wide smiles for the University’s 145th Annual Commencement May 10.

HU President Dr. William R. Harvey also conferred an Honorary Degree Doctor of Laws on Lewis. There were also four HU alumni honored during the ceremony. Harvey presented the alumnus-at-large award to University of Maryland Baltimore County President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski and his wife community activist Mrs. Jacqueline Hrabowski. The Outstanding 20-year Alumnus award was presented to Jenifer P. Abubakari and Dr. Sonya J. Snedecor.

The Valedictorian of the HU Class of 2015 was Symone Alexander Gyles. Gyles is a marine environmental science major from Springfield, Va. The salutatorian was Nehanda Akwasiba Ase Khemet, a psychology major from Sacramento, California.

Harvey charged the graduates to serve themselves and their alma mater well. “Let your education at Hampton University serve as your foundation as you build your careers.”

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