The 157th Bates Commencement saw degrees conferred on 439 Bates seniors and an address by author and scholar J. Drew Lanham — a self-described “bird-loving Black kid” from South Carolina — who spoke about freedom and Benjamin Mays, and called on the graduates “to be better, to do better” and “to be an arc in the bigger circle” that gives power to our freedom.
“We treat those with different beliefs not just as incorrect, but as ignorant,” said Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and a luminary in the state’s COVID-19 response. “Don’t do that,” he told the seniors. Instead, “be someone who builds trust.”
Five speakers on MLK Day at Bates, Maine-based thinkers, practitioners, and activists, offered personal narratives and insights that vividly captured the day’s theme, “What I Mean When I Say: Decolonization and Liberation.”
From the tumult of their abbreviated senior year to the triumph of a historic graduation, the Bates College Class of 2020 graduated on Sunday in a virtual Commencement livestreamed to more than 10,000 viewers.