friday, May 11, 7 p.m. - Baccalaureate speaker
Rev. Otis Scott Jr.
Rev. Otis Scott Jr. is the son of Mrs. Wilhelmenia Dennis Scott and the late Rev. Dr. Otis Scott, Sr. He was born in Sumter County and attended school in Kershaw County. He graduated from Claflin College in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in music education.
Rev. Scott taught one year and was subsequently drafted into the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War where he served his country until he was honorably discharged. He returned to teaching and taught several years developing the musical talents of students in Sumter County. In 1977, Rev. Scott answered his call to the ministry and enrolled as a student of Gammon Theological Seminary where he received the Master of Divinity degree. He has been a pastor for 40 years while serving numerous parishes across South Carolina to include Anderson, Easley, Columbia, Charleston, Camden, Johns Island, and St. George.
Rev. Scott received numerous awards and recognition for community service. During his appointment in Camden, he received the keys to the City of Camden for his work with the Camden First Community Development Corporation. This work made possible the rehabilitation of over 50 homes in Kershaw and Sumter counties. Numerous families benefited from affordable housing as well as improved living condition – including indoor plumbing and facilities.
In 2008, Rev. Scott helped to organize a county-wide Youth Explosion on Johns Island which led to 45 youth accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Currently Rev. Scott is working with MORE Justice in an effort to improve education and mental health.
saturDAY, MAY 12, 11 a.m. - commencement SPEAKER
April Danielle Ryan
April Danielle Ryan is an American journalist and author. Since 1997, she has served as a White House correspondent and is the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks. In 2017, she joined CNN as a political analyst. In May 2017, the National Association of Black Journalists named Ryan as the "Journalist of the Year.”
Ryan is a graduate of Morgan State University and was awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater in 2017. She began her media career as a jazz disc jockey before turning to reporting.
Ryan has been a member of the White House press corps for American Urban Radio Networks since January 1997 and has long been the only black female reporter among the White House correspondents. She is a member of the National Press Club and is one of only three African Americans to have served on the board of the White House Correspondent's Association.
As a White House correspondent, Ryan has covered four presidential administrations. Following the election of President Donald Trump, Ryan gained notoriety in 2017 after notable exchanges with him and his press secretary Sean Spicer. At a February press conference, when Trump began talking about "inner city places" and urban crime, she asked him if he planned to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). He responded by telling her to set up the meeting with them before asking, "Are they friends of yours?" Ryan responded that she was only a reporter and not a member of the CBC. In March 2017, Spicer accused her of having an agenda when she asked about Trump's ties with Russia and then berated her for shaking her head.
As one of the few African Americans in the White House press corps, Ryan is often the only journalist asking questions on issues concerning minorities, which she has come to resent. She said in an interview in May 2017, "Why can't the dynamic of all people be in that room? Why can't it be? All people are covered under the White House. Am I correct? So I really dislike that, but I have no qualms with it. If you want to call me a black reporter, I am the black reporter who also asks other issues and questions on China, Russia, Syria, North Korea. So if you want to label me a black reporter, I take it with a badge of honor.
Ryan, whom The A.V. Club dubbed "stalwart and professional" in her approach, said on an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that the purpose of the press remains unchanged by the Trump administration's hostile attitude to the mainstream media. Ryan stressed that the journalists must "get accurate information, facts for the American public. It's not about us, it's about freedom of the press. It's about informing the masses
Her first book, The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America, was published in 2015 and won an NAACP Image Award. Her second book, At Mama's Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White, was published in 2016. Her work has also appeared in Politico. Her blog, Fabric of America, is devoted to minority issues and stories in the United States.