Civil Rights Icon John Lewis to be UC San Diego Commencement Speaker

January 18, 2018
U.S. Rep. John Lewis

© Robert Hanashiro USA Today Sports


The University of California San Diego today announced that Rep. John Lewis, often called “one of the most courageous persons the civil rights movement ever produced,” will offer the keynote address at the invitation-only UC San Diego All Campus Commencement June 16, 2018.

“Rep. John Lewis has dedicated his life to making our world a better place for everyone by protecting human rights and securing civil liberties,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “He stands up for what he believes in and he is not afraid to take risks. These are ideals we aim to convey to our graduates as they commence their careers and lives beyond the classroom.”

Born the son of sharecroppers, Lewis attended segregated public schools in Alabama. At the age of 25, he helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the civil rights movement, leading with Hosea Williams—another notable civil rights leader—more than 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as Bloody Sunday. News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

UC San Diego, recognized as one of the top ten public universities in the U.S., is committed to public service and inclusive excellence—two areas that align with the work of John Lewis. Inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery bus boycott and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a young boy he made a decision to become a part of the civil rights movement. A devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence, Lewis has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States. He has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1986.

Below is the 2018 UC San Diego commencement weekend schedule. To learn more, visit the All Campus Commencement website

Saturday, June 16

  • 9:00 a.m.      All Campus Commencement (RIMAC Field)
  • 12:30 p.m.     Graduate Division (RIMAC Arena) – Masters
  • 1:00 p.m.       College Ceremony (RIMAC Field) – Earl Warren College
  • 4:00 p.m.      Graduate Division (RIMAC Arena) – Doctorate
  • 4:30 p.m.      College Ceremony (RIMAC Field) – John Muir College

Sunday, June 17

  • 8:00 a.m.      College Ceremony (RIMAC Field) – Eleanor Roosevelt College
  • 9:00 a.m.      Rady School of Management (RIMAC Arena)
  • 11:30 a.m.      College Ceremony (RIMAC Field) – Revelle College
  • 1:30 p.m.       School of Global Policy and Strategy (RIMAC Arena)
  • 3:00 p.m.      College Ceremony (RIMAC Field) – Thurgood Marshall College
  • 6:30 p.m.      College Ceremony (RIMAC Field) – Sixth College