HBCUs Prepare For Busy 2018 Graduation Season

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HAMPTON ROADS

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax will address graduates and their families at Norfolk State University, which will hold its commencement on May 5 in the William Dick Price Stadium at 9 a.m.

NSU is one of the Commonwealth’s six schools and institutions of higher learning where the statesman will speak this graduation season.

The lieutenant governor is expected to highlight the contributions of many different learning environments that make it possible for students to get a high quality education. 

Fairfax is the second African-American in Virginia to be elected lieutenant governor and the first African-American to be elected statewide in nearly 30 years. Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder was the first African-American to be elected lieutenant governor in Virginia and the first African-American elected governor in U.S. history.

Fairfax, a 2005 Columbia Law School graduate, 38, is a former federal assistant prosecutor for the Eastern District of Virginia in the Major Crimes and Narcotics Unit of the Alexandria Division. During his tenure as a federal prosecutor, he was appointed to serve as the deputy coordinator of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. He has also worked as a litigator in private law firms including Venable LLP in Tysons Corner for about three years. Fairfax’s wife, Cerina, is a dentist and runs a practice in Northern Virginia.

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Hampton University has invited Academy-Award-nominated costume designer Ruth Carter as the keynote speaker for its commencement, which will held on May 13 in Armstrong Stadium at 10 a.m.

Carter is a 1982 Hampton University graduate who received Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design for Spike Lee’s “Malcom X” in 1993 and Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad” in 1998.

Her  designs have been featured in films such as “The Butler,”  “Selma,” and “Roots.” Carter’s most recent success, Marvel’s “Black Panther,” has grossed $763.3 million globally and may break the $1 billion total.

Carter was already working with Chadwick Boseman on the 2017 biopic “Marshall” when she learned she had the “Black Panther” post. In a Feb. 16 Vanity Fair interview, Carter said the project was a bit of a family reunion, where she didn’t focus on personal style so much as what she described as her “family aesthetic … the family aesthetic of being an African-American in this country who respects culture.”

Carter said she aims to respect culture in all of her films. “I respect culture, be it the culture of Harlem in the 40s, the culture of the Muslims in “Malcolm X.”  The culture of the Freedom Fighters in Selma. Tina Turner’s journey. That’s my aesthetic,” she added in the Vanity Fair interview.

Carter  learned to sew on her mother’s sewing machine while growing up in her hometown, Springfield, Mass. She finished Hampton University, moved to Los Angeles in 1986, and met director Spike Lee while working at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. He hired her to work on his second film, “School Daze.” They have worked on more than a dozen projects and continue to work together.

Carter anchored the look for Gabrielle Union in “Being Mary Jane,” and forged comedic style in “Keeping Up With the Joneses.” Some of Carter’s recent projects include “Kidnap,” starring Halle Berry, “Motherland,” and “Marshall,” a story about a landmark NAACP case fought by Thurgood Marshall.

Virginia State University’s two separate commencement programs will feature keynote speakers Senator Mark Warner and Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax.

Virginia State will hold both commencement programs on May 13. The first ceremony will be held at 9 a.m., followed by an afternoon ceremony at 2 p.m. in the Multipurpose Center on campus, according to a news release. Lt. Gov. Fairfax will be the 9 a.m. speaker. Senator Warner will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Warner is a 1980 Harvard Law School graduate. He served as governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006, was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2008 and reelected to a second term in November 2014. He serves on numerous committees including the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget, and Rules Committees as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the vice chair. 

During his time in the Senate, Warner has established himself as a bipartisan leader who has worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to cut red tape, increase government performance and accountability, and promote private sector innovation and job creation.

Warner and his wife, Lisa, and their three daughters live in Alexandria, Va.

Fairfax has been recognized as one of the top young attorneys in the nation and a rising star in American politics. . He most recently served as a litigator in the Northern Virginia office of Venable, LLP, but departed in January 2018, to focus on his duties as lieutenant governor during his first General Assembly session.

By Rosaland Tyler

Associate Editor

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