Queen Latifah, Anita Hill to speak at Rutgers commencement ceremonies

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Queen Latifah (right) will speak at Rutgers-Newark’s commencement. Carin Baer/FOX

Queen Latifah, a Newark native, will serve as Rutgers University-Newark’s main commencement speaker this year, the university announced Wednesday.

Closer to home, Anita Hill, who accused then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, will headline commencement at Rutgers-Camden’s Law School. Both were announced at the university’s board of governors meeting Wednesday.

Camera icon Steven Ferdman/Sipa USA
Anita Hill attends the Glamour Women of the Year Awards at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn, New York City last year (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Sipa USA)

Hill’s selection comes at a time when more women are speaking up about sexual harassment and assault, causing resignations of high-profile male leaders in business and government.

“Prof. Hill is one of our nation’s most powerful voices in addressing equality and discrimination, and has reemerged as a central figure in the current national discussion regarding sexual harassment,” said Rutgers-Camden chancellor Phoebe Haddon.

“Her career is a living testament to her commitment to the idea of equity in access in myriad ways, particularly regarding the importance of equal rights for women.,” Haddon said. “She is the ideal role model to charge graduating students to take what they learned at Rutgers-Camden and work to improve their communities and world.”

Rutgers has not yet announced who will speak at the graduation ceremony on Rutgers’ main campus in New Brunswick, but the school has invited former Vice President Joe Biden.

Earlier this week, the University of Pennsylvania announced that NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, would address graduates. Expect announcements from more schools in the coming weeks.

At Rutgers-Newark, Queen Latifah will address graduates on May 14 at the Prudential Center. She will also get an honorary degree. The hip-hop icon, singer, and actress was selected by a committee of students, faculty, and staff.

“Queen Latifah is inspiring to us as students because she always projects herself through her work as a strong woman,” student Adebimpe Elegbeleye, who served on the commencement selection committee, said in a statement. “She shows young women that we can do that too and young men that they need to respect that.”

The actress was born in Newark and raised in East Orange and has won myriad awards, including a Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe. At 21, she founded and led a record company based in Jersey City and by 1993 had signed 17 artists. She’s also  continued to help her home community, including starting a scholarship foundation for low-income youth.

At Rutgers-Camden, Hill, a graduate of Yale Law School and a professor of social policy, law, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Brandeis University, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree while speaking to graduates during the May 17 ceremony.