Monday, May 23, 2016

Some Behind-The-Library Inspiration

Photo: John Van Vlack from the
News@Wesleyan website.
One of the rites of Spring for non-Wesleyan affiliated, Wesleyan neighbors is commencement weekend.  The streets are full of alumni and families attending festivities.  Cars are parked where they shouldn't be.  Tents bloom on all the lawns, and loud music emanates through the night.  It's like a brainy carnival (following closely on the heels of the Italian carnival that invades Pearl Street every May).

It's been a family tradition to attend Commencement.  Some years, especially the years when my kids were younger, we were more connected to the student body as babysitters walked to the stage in cap and gown.  Lately, we attend just to hear the Commencement speaker.

This year, it was joyous to see punk poet Patti Smith awarded an honorary doctorate, and good friend Sally Bachner receiving one of the coveted Binswanger Awards.

Over the years, we've heard a lot of great speeches from people like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joss Whedon, Amy Gutman and Barack Obama.

But I can't remember being inspired as much as I was this year when Bryan Stevenson spoke. Stevenson is an author, attorney, professor and social justice advocate specializing in bring justice to those on death row.

He asked the graduates to do something many graduates have been asked: change the world.  Then he provided four relatively practical things they (we) could do that would go a long way to making that change.  A 17 minute video of his speech is here.

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