November 24, 2010
A film-maker whose documentary won an Academy Award last March and a prominent advocate for children and families will deliver the commencement addresses at Northampton Community College (NCC) in 2011.
Roger Ross Williams, a 1983 graduate of NCC, will speak at the College's winter commencement on January 29. Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, will speak at the spring commencement on May 26.
In announcing the speakers, Northampton's president, Dr. Arthur L. Scott, said, "Roger Ross Williams and Marian Wright Edelman have both used their talents and education to improve the quality of life for others. They will be an inspiration to our students. We are honored that they will address the graduates and their families."
A native of Easton, Williams earned an associate in arts degree from NCC and went on to complete a bachelor's degree in journalism and politics from New York University. He has worked with Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, Robert Redford and others on productions for NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, Comedy Central, and the Sundance Channel. His first independent venture, "Music by Prudence," a 32-minute documentary garnered an Oscar this past March for its powerful portrayal of the struggles and accomplishments of a young Zimbabwean woman born with severe disabilities.
Edelman leads the Children's Defense Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to ensuring that every child has "a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start and a moral start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities." A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, she was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. Her first job in Washington, DC, was counsel for the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began organizing before his death. She has been awarded more than 100 honorary degrees, as well as the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award.