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The 2015 graduating class has selected award-winning poet, activist, and transformational leader Sonya Renee Taylor as their commencement speaker.
Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 16, at 11 a.m. on the Harold F. Johnson Library Lawn.
Taylor is founder and radical executive officer of The Body is Not An Apology. The Body is Not An Apology believes that discrimination, social inequality, and injustice are manifestations of our inability to make peace with our own bodies and those of others. Through information dissemination, transformational education, and community building, The Body is Not An Apology fosters radical, unapologetic self-love that translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable, and compassionate world. The Body is Not an Apology’s content reaches 100,000 people weekly in more than 45 countries.
She is also the creator of the RUHCUS Project (Radically Unapologetic Healing Challenge 4 US), a 30-day transformational healing action to address pain, shame, trauma, and fear in our lives.
Taylor believes that art is a vehicle for social change and is committed to creating art that challenges, engages, and heals the human spirit. She is a national and international poetry slam champion and author. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and media, and GirlChild Press released her first collection of poems, A Little Truth on Your Shirt, in 2010.
Her work has been translated into Dutch, Swedish, and German and used as curriculum in universities across the country and abroad. It has also been used as a tool for community and national action for organizations such as the Black AIDS Institute, HIV Campus Education, Advocates for Youth 1 in 3 campaign, and Gloria Steinem’s reproductive rights organization, Choice USA.
Taylor serves as an advocate and activist for a myriad of social justice issues. She continues to lend her talents and time to numerous organizations as well as having worked in direct service with at-risk youth, HIV +, sex workers, those who are incarcerated, and those most impacted by social inequality.
Margo Dalal designed the 2015 commencement poster. Each year a student in the graduating class designs the poster, which then becomes the artwork for all commencement materials.
Student speaker - Jorrell Watkins
Student moderators - Andrew "Fig" Figueroa and Jorrell Watkins
Staff toast - Jessica Ortiz, director of new student programs
Faculty toast - Chris Tinson, assistant professor of African American studies
Alumni speaker - Luis Hernandez 70F