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2003 Convocations Honor Supporters of Social Justice

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2003 Convocations Honor Supporters of Social Justice

Medalist Archbishop Desmond Tutu

2003 Convocations Honor Supporters of Social Justice

Medalist Pete Seeger

2003 Convocations Honor Supporters of Social Justice

Medalist Hank McKinnell

2003 Convocations Honor Supporters of Social Justice

Medalist Rev. James Forbes

2003 Convocations Honor Supporters of Social Justice

Medalists Ken Burns and Morris Dees

"The gifts of our medalists are numerous and well-known.  In fact, one gift that they all have in common is a selfless commitment to social justice," stated then-Acting President Darlyne Bailey, summing up the theme of the 2003 Master's Convocation ceremonies at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

The medalists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, singer Pete Seeger, Riverside Church's Reverend James A. Forbes, Jr., filmmaker Ken Burns, and civil rights attorney Morris Dees, received the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service at the first double-ceremony master's convocation.

Pete Seeger-honored for using his music to express his beliefs and to speak out for others-followed his brief remarks by playing the guitar and leading the cathedral in singing "Turn, Turn, Turn."  At the song's end, he commented, "Musicians can teach the politicians that not everyone has to sing the melody." Rev. James Forbes, often called "the preacher's preacher," told the audience that each of them has a song inside that, when shared, had the power to teach those around them.

Archbishop Tutu's remarks described his school days in "dilapidated, run-down buildings."  However, despite this impoverished environment, Tutu recalled inspirational teachers who filled their students with exhilaration and the sense that the sky is the limit and that "what injustice and oppression and racism was saying about us were just lies." He added, "Each one of us is a masterpiece in the making."

Later that evening, medalists Ken Burns and Morris Dees were the honored speakers at a second master's convocation.  Dees-honored for his work as a prominent civil rights attorney-said, "The ultimate victory will be when America returns to its core values of fairness and justice in human rights. We cannot expect the world to follow us unless we practice here at home what we preach abroad."

The Cleveland E. Dodge Medal for Distinguished Service to Education, presented annually at the Doctoral Convocation, was awarded to Hank A. McKinnell, CEO of drug company Pfizer, Inc. McKinnell was honored for leading Pfizer's drive to train hundreds of physicians in South Africa, building a training center in Uganda to help doctors treat HIV patients, and for other efforts supporting health care and education.

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