Angela Bassett, Spelman

Angela Bassett To Be Keynote Speaker at Spelman College Commencement

The "Black Panther" actress will address graduates and receive an honorary degree at Spelman's 137th Commencement Ceremony.

Emmy award-winning actress, director, and executive producer Angela Bassett will serve as the keynote speaker at Spelman College’s 137th Commencement Ceremony.

In recognition of her artistic prowess, Bassett will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, according to a press release from Spelman. The college honors Bassett, who has delivered iconic performances in films such as Malcolm X, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Black Panther, and Mission Impossible: Fallout. Her breakthrough performance came in 1993’s critically lauded What’s Love Got to Do with It, which garnered her an Oscar nomination.

“Spelman College is honored to have acclaimed actress and director Angela Bassett to bring words of inspiration to our graduating Class of 2024,” said Spelman College President Helene D. Gayle, M.D., MPH.  “Her work has had a tremendous impact both on and off the screen and serves as an example for our students to lead in their own spaces.”

Bassett has been highly admired for delivering powerful and uplifting words during previous events. Earlier this year, she gave a memorable speech after she received her honorary Oscar at the Academy’s 14th Governors Awards. The 9-1-1 star praised other Black trailblazers and emphasized that “there is room for us all.” She left the audience with wise words from actress Lena Horne, stating, “‘It’s so nice to get flowers while you can yet still smell the fragrance,’ and indeed, it is.”

Spelman’s commencement weekend will feature other prominent Black women receiving distinguished honors. Trailblazing Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, while revered Atlanta journalist Rose Scott will be recognized with the National Community Service Award.

The slate of women will be honored during the 3 p.m. commencement on Sunday, May 19, at the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC). A 10 a.m. Baccalaureate Ceremony on Saturday, May 18, will welcome social justice minister Reverend Dr. Yvette Flunder to deliver an address to the graduates.

The Class of 2024 comprises 504 degree candidates, with 325 receiving Bachelor of Arts and 179 earning Bachelor of Science degrees.