Wesleyan will present three honorary doctorates at the University’s 184th Commencement on May 22, 2016. Bryan A. Stevenson, a staunch advocate for racial justice who has fought against inequities in our judicial system, will deliver the Commencement address. Wesleyan will also honor Patti Smith, a legendary singer and writer celebrated for her path-breaking music and powerful memoirs, and Kwame Anthony Appiah, a philosopher known for his compelling work on cosmopolitanism, identity and ethics. The Baldwin Medal, the highest award of the Wesleyan Alumni Association, will be presented to John Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18.
Bryan A. Stevenson is a human rights lawyer who has dedicated his life to fighting racial injustice and discrimination in the criminal justice system. He is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based group that has won numerous legal challenges on behalf of the poor and incarcerated, including a historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that life-without-parole sentences for children aged 17 or younger are unconstitutional.
Professor Stevenson also teaches at the New York University School of Law and founded the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in 1989 to help prisoners on death row, and the scope of its mission has expanded since.