The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Emmy-Award Winning Graduation Speaker Announced

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

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As the school year comes to a close, seniors are beginning to anticipate the end of the year milestones, like Prom, Baccalaureate, but most importantly, Commencement.

This year the commencement speaker is Pierce Freelon. Freelon is a musician, professor, entrepreneur, and community organizer.

Freelon, 33, is deeply involved with his community of Durham, North Carolina, a city that is currently facing income inequality, gentrification, and poverty. He is expressing his love for his hometown, and his desire to make things better, by running for mayor.

“I’m raising kids in this community where the city is rapidly changing,” he explained in a campaign video. “I want to make sure as the city continues to develop and grow that all young people in Durham have equal access to opportunity … How do we create spaces for all members of our community to have a voice, to have a seat at the table?”

Freelon is the creator of Blackspace, a digital makerspace where young people learn about music, film, and coding. He has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Departments of Music and of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies.

In addition to his political and academic involvement, Freelon is a musician. He is the emcee and vocalist of The Beast, a hip hop and jazz ensemble.

In July 2017 his band released their second full length album “Woke.” On the band’s website thebeastmusic.com, Freelon spoke on the meaning behind the album.

“There is an awakening, a remembering happening in the United States, the likes which have not been seen since the Black Power Movement,” he explained. “The movement for Black Lives has resurged, and is being led by radical, Black, queer, Afrofuturists – organizers, artists, scholars and citizen journalists. We are powerful. We are envisioning new worlds, and new possibilities for ourselves, here on earth and beyond.”

Head of School Bob Hill is thrilled to welcome Freelon to campus.

“He embodies so many of the values and lessons that I hope all of our students take away from their time at Williston,” Hill said. “He’s a tremendously talented individual who has committed himself to public service and doing good for others. I’m sure he will connect to the seniors as they will to him.”

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Emmy-Award Winning Graduation Speaker Announced