Mumia Abu-Jamal to Give Commencement Speech at Goddard College

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Inmate Journalist and Goddard Graduate to Address Newest Class of Radical Thinkers

Goddard College announced today that Mumia Abu-Jamal, an American prisoner, author, and journalist who received his Bachelor of Arts from Goddard in 1996, was selected by the students of the Undergraduate Program’s Fall 2014 graduating class to be their commencement speaker this Sunday, October 5.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His original death sentence handed down at his trial in 1982 was commuted to life imprisonment without parole in 2011. [Rimer, Sara (December 19, 2001). "Death Sentence Overturned In 1981 Killing of Officer". The New York Times. p. 1.] He was then transferred from death row to the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pa., where he resides today.

Abu-Jamal’s commencement remarks were prerecorded by Director of Prison Radio Noelle Hanrahan and will be played alongside a short video created by director and filmmaker Stephen Vittoria, whose documentary “Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal” was released in 2012.

Goddard College holds twenty commencement ceremonies each year, allowing for students in each degree program to personalize their graduation experience.

“As a reflection of Goddard’s individualized and transformational educational model, our commencements are intimate affairs where each student serves as her or his own valedictorian, and each class chooses its own speaker,” said Goddard College Interim President Bob Kenny. “Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that,” he said.

Twenty out of twenty-three students receiving their Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts will graduate in the commencement ceremony featuring Abu-Jamal’s speech at the Haybarn Theatre at Goddard College, located at 123 Pitkin Road in Plainfield, Vt., at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 5.

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About Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist who chronicles the human condition. He was on Pennsylvania’s death row for twenty-nine years before being moved to the general population in 2011, and his nationally syndicated Prison Radio show airs on WGDR-WGDH Goddard Community Radio on Sundays at 7:00 p.m. Writing from his solitary confinement cell, Abu-Jamal’s essays have reached a worldwide audience, and his books "Live From Death Row," "Death Blossoms," "All Things Censored," “Faith of Our Fathers,” “We Want Freedom,” and the recently released “Jailhouse Lawyers” have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and have been translated into nine languages. His 1982-murder trial and subsequent conviction are the subject of great debate.

About Goddard College
Initially founded in 1863 as the Goddard Seminary in Barre, Vt., Goddard College moved to its current Plainfield campus and was chartered in 1938 by founding President Royce “Tim” Pitkin. In 1963, Goddard became the first U.S. college to offer low-residency adult degree programs, and now offers accredited MA, MFA, BA, and BFA degree programs from the main campus in Plainfield, and sites in Seattle and Port Townsend, Wash. Goddard’s intensive, low-residency model offers the best of on-campus and distance education, with experienced faculty advisors, rigorous campus residencies, and the freedom to study from anywhere. More at goddard.edu.

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Samantha Kolber
Goddard College Communications Manager
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