Attorney Benjamin Crump and Renowned Professor, Author, Preacher and Media Commentator Michael Eric Dyson to Deliver Addresses at 2 Lincoln University Commencements

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LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – Renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the family of the slain George Floyd, and Michael Eric Dyson, one of the nation’s most renowned professors, authors, preachers, lecturers, and media personalities, will deliver commencement addresses at Lincoln University’s 161st and 162nd commencements this month.

The Class of 2020, whose commencement ceremony was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, will be celebrated at the 1 p.m. ceremony headlined by Crump this Friday, May 21. The Class of 2021 commencement, which will feature Dyson’s remarks, will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 23. More than 440 graduates from each class will be honored.

“Now more than ever, the vision and voices of advocates for social justice must be heard,” said President Brenda A. Allen. “Mr. Crump’s persistence, passion, and leadership on civil rights exemplify what we teach students: to focus their energy on bringing constructive change to the society in which we live.

“The same can be said of Dr. Dyson. His 24 books, including seven New York Times bestsellers whose subjects range from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Malcolm X, Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, and Barack Obama—as well as his commentary on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News--continue to illuminate, in frank and searing terms, what it means to be Black in America.”

Selected for these honors by the faculty and approved by the Board of Trustees, Crump will also receive an honorary Doctor of Laws and Dr. Dyson will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. During Friday’s ceremony, three recipients will also receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees: Nelson Henry Jr. (posthumously), Dr. Leonard Bethel, and Emery Wimbish. During Sunday’s commencement, Gloria Carter, Dr. Charles V. Hamilton, and Percy (Master P) Miller will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

About Benjamin Crump

Crump has established himself as one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice. He has successfully battled to protect constitutional rights at the local, state, and federal levels, using his advocacy skills and the high profile of the cases to provide a voice to those long silenced and hope to those pushed to the outside. He is the founder and principal owner of Ben Crump Law.

Crump has represented clients in some of the most high-profile cases in the United States, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and George Floyd.

Born in Lumberton, North Carolina, he graduated from Florida State University and received his law degree from FSU College of Law.

About Michael Eric Dyson

Dyson has taught at some of the nation’s most distinguished universities, including Brown, UNC Chapel Hill, Columbia, DePaul, Georgetown, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is presently NEH Centennial Chair; Distinguished University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies, College of Arts & Science; and Distinguished University Professor of Ethics and Society, The Divinity School, Vanderbilt University.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, he earned a bachelor's degree from Carson–Newman College in 1985 and a Ph.D. in religion from Princeton University in 1993.

About Nelson Henry Jr.

Nelson Henry Jr. attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania for three years before serving his country in the U.S. Army. Henry, a World War II veteran, was among more than 48,000 soldiers who were given “blue discharges” between 1941 and 1945. Of those, a disproportionate number went to black, gay, or lesbian service members. Neither honorable nor dishonorable, the blue discharge denied them access to military benefits such as a funeral honor guard. Printed on blue paper, the discharge was a notice to potential employers who refused to hire soldiers without an honorable discharge.

Nearly 75 years later, after Henry fought for decades to have it changed, the Army found that an injustice had occurred and finally upgraded the decision to an honorable discharge. Henry passed away on May 9, 2020; a representative of Henry will receive the honorary degree on his behalf.

About Dr. Leonard Bethel ’61

Dr. Leonard L. Bethel is a professor emeritus from Rutgers University. He taught in the Africana Studies Department and retired in June 2011 after 42 years. Born in Philadelphia, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Lincoln University in 1961. He then earned a master of divinity degree from Johnson C. Smith University School of Theology and a master of arts from the New Brunswick Theology Seminary. He completed his doctorate of education from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University in 1975.

Dr. Bethel has served on various boards and has been honored with several service awards from various institutions. He is a member of the Lincoln University Athletic Hall of Fame and served for many years on the Lincoln University Board of Trustees.

About Emery Wimbish, Jr.

Emery Wimbish, Jr. served a long and distinguished career at Lincoln University, retiring as the dean of the Langston Hughes Memorial Library.

In 1971, an idea for mini-libraries in Frederick Douglass and Hansberry Halls was created when he gave Dean Bradshaw Kindsey duplicate copies of books from Vail Memorial Library, thereby putting those books in closer reach to the Lincoln community and creating an experience of living and learning in the halls. He was chosen as the University’s representative to receive the personal library donated from the estate of Langston Hughes. He also received a substantial grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to sponsor a national conference on Langston Hughes.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he earned degrees from Clark College and Atlanta University, both in Atlanta, Georgia; and Columbia University in New York.

 About Gloria Carter

Gloria Carter is the co-founder and chief executive officer of the Shawn Carter Foundation (SCF), which she established in 2003 with her son Shawn Carter. SCF helps young individuals facing socio-economic hardships further their education at institutions of higher learning. SCF Scholars represent diverse backgrounds, and typically face significant barriers to success such as teen pregnancy, homelessness, former incarceration, interrupted schooling, and sexual and domestic abuse. However, they all possess an extraordinary desire to pursue their educational and professional dreams.

Through the Foundation’s signature scholarship fund, annual college tours, study abroad experiences, counseling initiatives, wealth-building workshops, career exposure opportunities, and holiday toy and meal drives, youth and communities in need have benefited and been able to overcome obstacles to success.

About Dr. Charles V. Hamilton

Dr. Charles V. Hamilton, a former Lincoln University professor, is a political scientist, civil rights leader, author, and the Wallace S. Sayre Professor Emeritus of Government at Columbia University. One of the first African Americans to hold an endowed chair at an Ivy League university, Hamilton focused his research on urban politics and the civil rights movement. His most famous and best-selling book, which he co-authored with Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), is “Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America” (1967).

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Dr. Hamilton graduated from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1951 and earned a master’s degree in 1957 from the University of Chicago. After teaching for several years at the Tuskegee Institute, he returned to the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1964. He was on the faculty of Rutgers University, Lincoln University, and his alma mater, Roosevelt University, before joining Columbia in 1969.

About Percy (Master P) Miller

Percy (Master P) Miller is a hip-hop mogul, actor, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who founded No Limit Records, which has sold 100 million records. In 1990, at a time when record labels were still reluctant to look beyond New York or Los Angeles, he formed his own label, No Limit—a label whose artists have included Mystikal, Kane & Abel, and Snoop Dogg.

Miller, who was born in New Orleans, also has established himself as a savvy businessman with a range of investments and interests beyond rap.


Meet Lincoln University’s 2020 valedictorian, salutatorian, and members of the Class of 2020 & Class of 2021.

For more information, visit the Commencement website. Lincoln University’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds will have images and stories about the weekend’s activities. Commencement photos will be available to download from Lincoln’s Flickr account following the event. The official hashtags for Commencement are #LUGrad2020, #Lincoln2020, #LUGrad2021 and #Lincoln2021

Media: All members are required to inform the Office of Communications & Public Relations in advance for access to the ceremony and dignitaries for interviews. Please contact the Office of Communications at or 484-365-7427.

--By Bruce Beans & Terrance J. Young

Attorney Ben Crump

Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D.

Nelson Henry Jr.

Dr. Leonard Bethel ’61

Emery Wimbish, Jr.

Gloria Carter

Dr. Charles V. Hamilton

Percy (Master P) Miller

Lincoln University, the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), educates and empowers students to lead their communities and change the world. Lincoln offers a rigorous liberal arts education to a diverse student body of approximately 2,200 men and women in more than 35 undergraduate and graduate programs.