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President Barack Obama to Deliver May Commencement Speech; Ray Charles Foundation Gives Morehouse $3 Million

Wilson announces Commencement Speaker

President Barack Obama will be the speaker for Morehouse College’s 129th Commencement in May, Morehouse President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79 announced Saturday, Feb. 16.


A White House official told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Morehouse was chosen because it is one of the nation’s leading historically black colleges and universities and is among the best and brightest institutions of higher education in the country.  The official also said that Morehouse is known for its high standard for excellence in learning and social consciousness and is home to a long list of notable alumni that spans the last three centuries.


Wilson surprised the nearly 2,000 guests at the College’s largest scholarship fundraiser, the 25th Annual “A Candle in the Dark” Gala.


“The president’s life story trumpets an ethic that we try to instill in all Morehouse Men, namely excellence without apology or compromise,” Wilson said Saturday.  “It’s a good thing to have him here for that reason.”


The Gala crowd of students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the College jumped out of their seats and screamed in excitement.


Morehouse’s commencement ceremony is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 19.  More details will be forthcoming.


It was a night of big announcements as The Ray Charles Foundation also presented Morehouse $3 million in honor of the legendary musician Ray Charles’ mother, Aretha Robinson, for the College’s Music Academic Building. The building is connected to the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, which was built after a previous gift from Charles.


“Ray Charles cherished his mother,” said Valerie Ervin, president of The Ray Charles Foundation. “I know that Ray Charles had a long-standing relationship with Morehouse based on professionalism, integrity and honesty and that those qualities were very important to him, personally and professionally.  He genuinely valued the education and preparation that Morehouse provides to young men.”