Norfolk State University recently announced a big surprise to its students: Pharrell Williams will be delivering the commencement address for graduates later this month! The musical legend has worked tirelessly to support HBCU students, and now, he will be able to share his admiration for their hard work in person! Get the full story from the Norfolk State University release below.
Pharrell Williams will deliver commencement address to Norfolk State University’s December graduates
Music superstar Pharrell Williams will deliver the commencement address to Norfolk State University’s December graduates of the Class of 2021, the university announced.
The ceremony will take place in-person at Joseph G. Echols Memorial Hall on campus on Dec. 11, starting at 9 a.m. It will also be available to view via livestream on NSU’s website, www.nsu.edu.
Williams, a Virginia Beach native, has been an advocate for racial justice in his home state. The Grammy-winning producer and Oscar-nominated songwriter played a critical role in Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement last year that Juneteenth would become a paid holiday for state employees.
Williams also helped organize Something in the Water, a music festival at the Oceanfront, which debuted in 2019. But he said the event would not return in 2022 with a letter to Virginia Beach city officials in October.
The letter attributed his decision to the city’s “toxic energy” and what he described as the city’s failure to take a stand on the fatal shooting of his cousin Donovan Lynch by a Virginia Beach police officer earlier this year.
In addition to conferring degrees for nearly 400 students at the ceremony, NSU will also award Williams a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree.
To attend the ceremony, all invited guests must have a ticket, which is provided by their prospective graduate, according to a release from the university.
NSU also requires attendees either provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the commencement ceremony.