Loretta Lynch, the nation’s first female African-American U.S. attorney general, will serve as Tuskegee University’s commencement speaker during its 134th Spring Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 11.

A leading progressive voice during her 30-plus-year highly distinguished career, Lynch was appointed at the 83rd U.S. attorney general by President Barack Obama in April 2015 and served in this capacity until January 2017.  She also served as head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York twice, under both President Bill Clinton and Obama.

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Described by Obama as “the only lawyer in America who battles mobsters, drug lords and terrorists, and still has the reputation for being a charming ‘people person,’” she has been instrumental in shaping the direction of the nation on a number of tough issues. Those issues have included improving the relationship between local law enforcement and the communities they serve, as well as her bold stances on criminal justice reform. 

Lynch has spent years in the trenches rising through the ranks as a prosecutor, aggressively fighting terrorism, financial fraud and cybercrime — all while vigorously defending civil and human rights. While leading the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, she became known for the high-profile civil rights conviction of two Brooklyn police officers who brutally assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

While in private practice, Lynch served as a volunteer legal advisor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations in the 1994 genocide in that nation.

Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, the daughter of a school librarian and fourth-generation Baptist minister was also inspired by stories about her grandfather, a sharecropper in the 1930s who helped members of his community who had no recourse under the Jim Crow system. 

The university’s May 11 commencement ceremony will be held in the campus’ Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Arena. The commencement processional will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the official ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. As a courtesy, guests should be seated by the processional or delay their entry until the processional concludes.

Due to limited seating for graduates and their families, spring commencement is a ticketed event. Visit www.tuskegee.edu/commencement for information about overflow seating on campus and live-stream opportunities.

Other events leading up to commencement will include:

Saturday, May 4

  • 10 a.m., College of Veterinary Medicine Spring Commencement Ceremony, University Chapel

Thursday, May 9

  • 7 p.m., School of Education Induction Ceremony, Kellogg Conference Center

Friday, May 10

  • 10 a.m., Baccalaureate Service, University Chapel
  • 12 p.m., Graduates and Parents Reception, Grey Columns (ticketed event)
  • 1 p.m., ROTC Commissioning Ceremony, University Chapel
  • 3 p.m., Order of the Engineer Ceremony, Logan Hall
  • 3 p.m., School of Nursing and Allied Health Nursing Capping and Pinning Ceremony, University Chapel
  • 6 p.m., Social Work Pinning Ceremony, University Chapel

Current and future updates regarding spring commencement are online at www.tuskegee.edu/commencement.