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Ifill and Ogletree Tell Class of 2011 to Lead the World Into the Future


Pamela Yarber dabbed her eyes as her son, Camron, delivered the valedictory address during the 127th Commencement ceremony on the Century Campus before nearly 10,000 people.

She remembered the trials and tribulations her son, a business administration major who is on his way to Harvard Business School, went through over the past four years--including football injuries and surgeries.

“It was quite traumatic,” Yarber said as a tear fell. “But because of his focus and discipline, and his faith in the Lord, he kept his eye on the prize. Watching him turn into a man has really been wonderful. He’s my hero.”

Family, friends and supporters from all over the country, some across the globe, all cheered the 515 men in the class of 2011 who became the newest Morehouse Men on a cloudy, chilly day.

Many of the men are going off to graduate schools at places like Stanford, Columbia and Harvard. One student plans to be a filmmaker. Two others will become professional golfers before continuing their educations.

The men who graduated are the first to matriculate all four years under President Robert Franklin ’75. Both arrived in 2007.

“I’ve been privileged to share your company, stand shoulder to shoulder, to share your dreams and your hopes. Together we have discovered Mother Morehouse, enjoyed Morehouse and raged at her, sometimes all in the same day. We will cherish for the rest of our lives these Renaissance years that we have shared together.”

Two speakers, journalist Gwen Ifill and Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, told the class that they have to take the reigns from previous generations and move the pendulum of justice forward.

“They have sacrificed for us,” Ogletree said. “It’s up to the men of Morehouse, the class of 2011, to stand up and sacrifice for those who follow.”

Ifill said: “It’s your responsibility to shine a light, the light of justice, the light of understanding, in the world. And it’s as necessary as it can be satisfying. That’s what we expect of Morehouse Men.”

Ifill and trustee Billye Aaron were given honorary Doctor of Human Letters degrees, while Ogletree and board chairman Willie “Flash” Davis ’56 were both presented the honorary Doctor of Laws.

The College’s only living female graduate, Mary Robinson Spivey ’33, was recognized and presented a replacement diploma. The 96-year-old retired educator was also the oldest alumnus attending Reunion 2011 this year.

But the day belonged to the happy graduates, who joyously tossed beach balls around as they waited for the ceremony to end.

Still, Camron Yarber, who will be going to Harvard Business School, said the class of 2011 heard Franklin’s call for them to go out and be the socially conscious men he asked them to become four years ago.

“We assure our family, our friends, teachers, administrators, mentors, our president that we as godly men, we as Renaissance Men will change this world for the better forever.”

Visit the Commencement website to view photos and video from the weekend.

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