friday, May 12 - Baccalaureate speaker

congressman emanuel cleaver II

Congressman Cleaver PicEmanuel Cleaver II is now serving his sixth term representing Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, the home district of President Harry Truman. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus.

Having served for twelve years on the city council of Missouri’s largest municipality, Kansas City, Cleaver was elected as the city’s first African American Mayor in 1991.

Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II, born in Waxahachie, Texas in 1944, is best known as the first African American mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.  Cleaver, who grew up in a public housing project in Wichita Falls, Texas, graduated from Prairie View A & M University in Texas with a B.S. in Sociology in 1968.  After graduating from Prairie View he moved to Kansas City where he founded a local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  He also received a Master of Divinity degree from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, MO and became pastor of the St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, MO where he built the congregation from 47 members to more than 2,000.   He served St. James UMC for 36 years.

During his eight year stint in the Office of the Mayor, Cleaver distinguished himself as an economic development activist and an unapologetic redevelopment craftsman. He and the City Council brought a number of major corporations to the city, including TransAmerica, Harley Davidson, and Citi Corp. Cleaver also led the effort, after a forty year delay, to build the South Midtown Roadway. Upon completion of this major thoroughfare, he proposed a new name: The Bruce R. Watkins Roadway. Additionally, his municipal stewardship includes the 18th and Vine Redevelopment, a new American Royal, the establishment of a Family Division of the Municipal Court, and the reconstruction and beautification of Brush Creek.

Cleaver has received five honorary Doctoral Degrees augmented by a bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M, and a Master’s from St. Paul's School of Theology of Kansas City.

In 2009, Cleaver, with a multitude of accomplishments both locally and Congressionally, introduced the most ambitious project of his political career—the creation of a Green Impact Zone. This zone, consisting of 150 blocks of declining urban core, has received approximately $125 million dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment funds. The Green Impact Zone is aimed at making this high crime area the environmentally greenest piece of urban geography in the world. This project includes rebuilding Troost Avenue, rehabbing bridges, curbs and sidewalks, home weatherization, smart grid technology in hundreds of homes, and most importantly, hundreds of badly needed jobs for Green Zone residents. During the 112th Congress, Cleaver was unanimously elected the 20th chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Cleaver, a native of Texas, is married to the former Dianne Donaldson. They have made Kansas City home for themselves and their four children.


saturDAY, MAY 13 - commencement SPEAKER

dr. eddie s. glaude jr.

Eddie-GlaudeEddie S. Glaude, Jr. is currently the Chair of the Department of African American Studies and the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. Prolific author, columnist and television commentator, he is widely regarded as one of the most important black intellectuals in the United States today.

Glaude brings to his scholarship and public service a sense of passion and vocation shaped by the tradition of African American struggle. His scholarship and his sense of himself as a public intellectual are driven by a commitment to think carefully with others in public. In doing so, Glaude seeks to prod and to provoke, to insist and to incite, to encourage and to embolden fellow citizens to rise to the profound challenges of our day.

As described by noted scholar Cornel West, “Eddie Glaude is the towering intellectual of his generation. There is simply no one else like him emerging on the intellectual scene.” Glaude offers a critical and insightful view on the problems currently facing black America as well as the nation at large.

Highly sought after for his insightful commentary, Glaude has appeared on the Tavis Smiley Show, Fox TV’s Hannity & Colmes Show, CNN, and C-SPAN. Along with noted scholars, Dr. Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, he also appeared in the documentary, Stand, produced and directed by Tavis Smiley. He is a contributor to the Huffington Post and is well known for being a regular contributor and panelist during the State of the Black Union. In 2007, Dr. Glaude delivered the Founder’s Day Convocation keynote address during the 140th anniversary of Morehouse College, where he graduated in 1989 and served as president of the Student Government Association.

Glaude is the author of Exodus: Religion, Race, and Nation in Early 19th Century Black America (Chicago, 2000), winner of the William Sanders Scarborough Book Prize, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America (Chicago, 2007), and African American Religion: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2014).

He is the editor of Is it Nation Time? Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism (Chicago, 2002) and co-editor with Cornel West of African American Religious Thought: An Anthology (Westminster John Knox, 2003). His award-winning book, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, has been characterized as a tour de force. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul (Crown Publishing, 2016) is his latest book, a provocative account of the current state of race in the United States.

Glaude holds a master's degree in African-American studies from Temple University and a master's degree in religion from Princeton University, where he also earned his doctorate degree and is the founding member and Senior Fellow of the Jamestown Project.

He is married to the former Winnifred Brown and the couple has a son, Langston.

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