By Cheryl Stewart,
Morgan State University PR
Overcast skies endeavored to set the tone, but the joy of achievement recently prevailed at Morgan State University, as 622 candidates received bachelor’s degrees during the 146th undergraduate commencement exercises for the institution, officially deemed a “national treasure” in 2016.
Acclaimed civil rights and personal injury attorney Benjamin L. Crump gave the keynote address and received an honorary doctor of laws at the ceremony, which was held at Morgan’s Hughes Memorial Stadium. The audience included undergraduate candidates, family members and enthusiastic supporters. A portion of Morgan’s 190 Spring 2023 master’s degree and 38 doctoral degree graduates were also in attendance, however they received their diplomas at separate commencement exercises for the School of Graduate Studies at Morgan’s Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center on May 18.
Members of the Class of 1973, Morgan’s 50th anniversary class, fresh from making a $309,000 gift to the University, led the Class of 2023 into the stadium and took seats of honor on the platform, adorned in golden caps and gowns.
In addition to Crump, the University also cast a deserving spotlight on one of its own. Professor of English Emerita Ruthe T. Sheffey, Ph.D., a member of Morgan’s Class of 1947, was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters, in recognition of her more than half-century career on the faculty of Morgan. During her tenure she became the standard bearer for Morgan’s Department of English and Language Arts.
Crump has gained renown for his successful legal representation of the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Henrietta Lacks and a long list of other clients who have suffered from social injustice in the U.S. More recently, he has gained attention for his representation of plaintiffs in the decades-long abuse claims involving Archdiocese of Baltimore clergy.
In his address, Crump praised the many thousands of students who took to the streets in 2020 to protest police killings of African Americans, and he spoke to Morgan’s degree candidates and recent graduates about their role in “the 21st century civil rights struggle.”
Crump told the graduates that the next wave of progress will be “one that you all must lead…. I submit to you, Class of 2023 at the great Morgan State University, it is the right time for you all to take a stand for our children’s future.”