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Forest Whitaker to speak at graduation

By Staff
On April 1, 2014

From the big screen to the Academy Awards red carpet, Forest Whitaker is a well-recognized face in Hollywood. But this spring, the Oscar-winning actor will be seen behind a podium at Miami University's Yager Stadium, giving the annual commencement speech at the spring graduation ceremony Saturday, May 17.

Whitaker is perhaps best known for his roles in various movies such as "The Last King of Scotland," in which his performance earned an Academy Award for Best Actor in 2006. Recently, his portrayal of Eugene Allen - an African American butler who served the White House through eight presidential administrations - in Lee Daniel's "The Butler" was also highly regarded, winning African-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor and several Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

"The Butler" was adapted from a Washington Post article written by Miami '76 alumnus and future faculty member Wil Haygood, who gave last spring's commencement speech.

Whitaker is also a movie director and producer who is especially active in philanthropy, founding organizations such as PeaceEarth, and "Hope North Uganda," which advocates safety for refugees, orphans and former child soldiers.

In a university press release, Miami President David Hodge distinguished Whitaker as an appropriate choice for this spring's commencement speaker, given Miami's year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and the civil right's movement which Whitaker's role in "The Butler" highlights.

"As an actor and a humanitarian, Forest Whitaker reflects the energy and the values that define Miami. We are excited to have him share his experience and vision with our graduating class," Hodge said. "It is especially fitting to have him as our commencement speaker in Miami's year of Celebrating Freedom with the focus on the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, an important moment in the struggle for civil rights as highlighted in the movie Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' and an anniversary significant to Oxford history."

This spring's commencement ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17 in Yager Stadium.

By Staff

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