Holidays mean diplomas for UMSL grads
Nearly 600 graduates of the University of Missouri–St. Louis will bring home a coveted college diploma following commencement ceremonies Saturday.
Norman R. Seay and Sister Mary Antona Ebo, two African-American pioneers of the country’s civil rights struggle, will receive honorary degrees for their lifelong dedication to racial justice.
Seay, a civil rights leader in St. Louis during the 1950s and 1960s, sought to integrate St. Louis’ public institutions where blacks were systematically denied entry, service and jobs. He was a founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality and spent 90 days in jail in 1963 for his participation in protests seeking jobs for African-Americans in the city’s financial institutions. Seay directed UMSL’s Office of Equal Opportunity from 1987 to 2000.
Ebo made national news in 1965 in Selma, Ala., when she joined a group of clergy from St. Louis and participated in a march for voting rights for blacks in Alabama. Blocked by police from crossing a bridge, she told the national media why she chose to protest.
“I am here because I am a Negro, a nun, a Catholic and because I want to bear witness,” she said.
The march and Ebo’s role in it became the subject of the 2006 Public Broadcasting Service documentary “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change.”
Three ceremonies will be held in the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center on the university’s North Campus. Jazz performances featuring Chancellor Tom George; Tom Walker, dean of Division of Continuing Education; and UMSL students Charles Clements and Dustin Shapiro will be featured at the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies.
A. Greig Woodring, president, chief executive officer and a director of Reinsurance Group of America Inc., will speak at the 6 p.m. ceremony. RGA’s world headquarters are based in Chesterfield, Mo. The company has assets of more than $28.9 billion and offices around the world.
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