Honorary Degree Recipients

His Royal Highness
Prince Bandar Ibn Sultan Ibn Abdulaziz
Ambassador of the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia to the United States

Doctor of Laws

Biographical Note

His Royal Highness Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz is the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States of America.

Prince Bandar was born in Saudi Arabia on March 2, 1949, at Taif, the summer capital of the Kingdom, the son of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation. He is married to Princess Haifa Bint Faisal, and they have four sons and four daughters. Prince Bandar was appointed Ambassador to the United States by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, as his representative in Washington on September 27, 1983. He is currently Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in the United States. On August 7, 1995, he was promoted to the rank of Minister.

Prince Bandar graduated from the British Royal Air Force College at Cranwell, England in 1968 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). He received pilot training in the United Kingdom and the United States, and has flown numerous fighter aircraft, including the JP 3-4, T-38, T-33. F-5, F-53/55, and the F-102. During his seventeen-year military career, he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel, commanded fighter squadrons at three RSAF bases, and undertook program management responsibilities in the major RSAF modernization project, Peace Hawk. In addition, Prince Bandar carried out special assignments in Washington, D.C., during the debates between the U.S. administration and the Congress concerning the sale to Saudi Arabia of F-15s in 1978 and of  F-3 AWACs in 1981. In 1982, he was assigned to Washington, D.C. as the Kingdom’s defense attaché.

Prince Bandar completed his post-graduate work in several U.S. professional military schools, including staff courses with the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, and with the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. He received his Master’s degree in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, D.C., in 1980.

As special envoy for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, Prince Bandar negotiated the ceasefire in the Lebanese civil war in 1983. He was the Saudi delegate within the Gulf Cooperation Council observing the 1991 Madrid Peace Talks. In addition, Prince Bandar has been a regular member of the Kingdom’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly since 1984. He has been awarded many medals and decorations, including the Hawk Flying Medal of Aviation, the King Faisal Medal, and the King Abdul Aziz Sash, as well as many honors from other nations.

James Arthur Baldwin 
American Novelist, Essayist, and Dramatist
Doctor of Humane Letters (Posthumously)

Biographical Note

Born in Harlem, New York, on August 2, 1924, James Arthur Baldwin is recognized today as one of the most important twentieth-century American writers.  Through critically acclaimed novels, short stories, essays, social criticism, and dramas, Baldwin played a major role in shaping modern intellectual discourse from post World War II to his untimely death in 1987.  In his work, he opposed racial and sexual polarization in American society and challenged readers to confront and resolve those differences.  Today, the power and authority of his words continue to resonate within the consciousness of readers around the world.  In recognition of Baldwin’s distinguished contribution to twentieth-century culture, France bestowed upon him its highest honor, Commander in the French Legion of Honor.

James Baldwin emerged as a public voice at a critical moment in the nation’s history—the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement.  In his 1953 semi-autobiographical novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, he drew upon his personal experiences growing up in Harlem to convey the story of a young black man’s transformation into adulthood.  Acclaimed for its authentic representation of Black cultural traditions and haunting lyricism grounded in the rich tapestry of the Black church, Go Tell It on the Mountain, a stunningly crafted work, is considered world wide an American masterpiece.

Throughout his life, Baldwin continued to use his personal life as a tool for excavating the corrosive morals at the center of America’s social and political structure.  In his 1955 collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, Baldwin established himself as a consummate social and literary critic.  Through language of extraordinary depth and passion, he laid the groundwork for an interrogation of the social and political assumptions inherent in the so-called protest novel.  During the Civil Rights Movement, Baldwin emerged as one of its most ardent and capable interpreters.  Through the sharp precision of his language, he scrupulously addressed the complex nexus of race and human relationships.  His essay collections such as Nobody Knows My Name (1961), The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name on the Street (1972), The Price of the Ticket (1985), established him as one of the leading commentators on racial injustice in the United States.  His two successful Broadway plays, The Amen Corner (1955) and Blues for Mister Charlie (1964), were also testaments to his commitment to chronicle his people’s epic struggle to survive.

Baldwin’s impact on the twentieth century was deep and profound.  His piercing critical mind, extraordinary gift of language, and his compassion for the human condition endowed him with the capacity to articulate our fears, our hopes, and our dreams.  He is truly one of the most important writers of our time.

Angela Bassett
Doctor of Humane Letters

Biographical Note

Angela Bassett-Vance is an actress who breaks boundaries, who does not believe in limits, and who operates with sheer determination. 
In a time when quality roles for women are few and far between—and those for African Americans fewer still—Angela Bassett-Vance’s rise to the top of Hollywood’s A-list is truly an extraordinary feat.

The fortitude that she has conveyed on the big screen, seems to have its basis in her real life. Angela was born on August 16, 1958, in New York City and grew up with her sister, D’nette, in Petersburg, Florida. She was inspired by her single mother, Betty, who attended night school to secure a position in social services in order to get the family off public assistance.

On a high school trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Upward Bound Program, she became inspired to act after seeing a Kennedy Center production of Of Mice and Men, starring James Earl Jones. Encouraged by a high school teacher, she went on to study at Yale on scholarship, earning a B.A. in Afro-American Studies and an M.F.A. in drama under the renowned stage director, Lloyd Richards. He cast her in the Broadway productions of two August Wilson plays, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

Despite her early success on stage, Angela had to work hard to break through the stereotypical roles usually assigned to African-American women on screen. Her first role was a bit part in the cult favorite, F/X (1986). In 1991, she had a key role in the seminal anti-gang film, Boyz ‘N the Hood. A year later, she landed the role of Katherine Jackson, mother of the Jackson Five singing group in The Jacksons: an American Dream (1992). Angela continued her stream of strong women roles by portraying Betty Shabazz in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992) with Denzel Washington, and turned in an outstanding performance in her breakthrough role as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It? (1993), earning her an Academy Award nomination.

She co-starred with Whitney Houston in the adaptation of Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale in 1995, and in 1998, headlined another McMillan adaptation, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. In Jodie Foster’s extraterrestrial-encounter film, Contact (1997), Bassett portrayed a top-level presidential advisor. Her performances in Strange Days, Music of the Heart, and Contact showed that she could more than hold her own in mainstream films—without the back-up of a mostly Black cast. She is one of the few African-American talents to break this color boundary, testimony to her fine acting abilities. Back on stage, she played Lady MacBeth in Shakespeare’s MacBeth, co-starring Alec Baldwin, at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York City in 1998.

Angela is married to actor Courtney B. Vance, stage and film star.

Myrlie Evers-Williams
Civil Rights Activist, Businesswoman, and Author 
Doctor of Humane Letters

Biographical Note

Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams is a phenomenal woman of great strength and courage.  Her dedication to civil rights and equality is exemplified by her activist role, linking together business, government, and social issues to further human rights and equality.  On February 18, 1995, she was elected to the position of Chairman of the National Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the first woman to lead the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.  With the support of a strong member base of the NAACP, she is credited with spearheading the operations that restored the Association to its original status as the premier civil rights organization.

A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Mrs. Evers-Williams was an honor student at Alcorn A & M College, Lorman, Mississippi, where she met and married another outstanding student, Medgar Evers.  They moved to historic Mound Bayou, Mississippi, where they embarked on business careers with Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company.  Business responsibilities demanded extensive travel in the Delta where they witnessed the burden of poverty and injustice imposed on their people.  Determined to make positive changes in that society, both Medgar and Myrlie opened and managed the first NAACP Mississippi State Office.  They lived under constant threats as they worked for voting rights, economic stability, fair housing, equal education, equal justice, and dignity.

A true pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement, Medgar Evers was assassinated on June 12, 1963.  Myrlie and their three small children saw the murder at the front door of their home in Jackson, Mississippi. After suffering through two hung jury trials in the murder of her husband, Mrs. Evers-Williams moved her three children to California.  She did not see justice for the murder of Medgar Evers until 31 years later.In 1994, she was present when the verdict of guilty and life imprisonment was handed down for Byron De La Beckwith. At last, she was victorious, Her persistence and faith in the pursuit of justice for the assassination that changed her life and that of her children had come to fruition.

Myrlie knew the value of education.  She received her B.A. degree in Sociology in 1968 and a Certificate from Simmons College, School of Management, Boston, Massachusetts. In addition, she has received honorary doctorates from Pomona College, Medgar Evers College, Spelman College, Columbia College, Bennett College, Tougaloo College, and Willamette University.

She has held the position of Director, Planning and Development for the Claremont College; first African-American woman to serve as Commissioner, Board of Public Works, Los Angeles, California; vice president, Seligman & Latz; and national director of consumer affairs, Atlantic Richfield. She chronicled the life of her late husband, Medgar, and the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in a book, For Us, the Living.  She also anchored a special HBO production, “Southern Justice, the Murder of Medgar Evers.

Her husband of 18 years, Walter Edward Williams, himself a civil rights activist, passed away two days after Mrs. Evers-Williams was elected Chairman of the Board of the NAACP.  

Bruce Llewellyn
Chairman of the Board & CEO of 
The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company

Doctor of Humane Letters

Biographical Note

J. Bruce Llewellyn has distinguished himself nationally as an entrepreneur, as a public official, and as a role model in the American business community. He is Chairman of the Board and CEO of The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the nation’s largest Black-owned firm.

Mr. Llewellyn was born in Harlem, his parents having immigrated to America from Jamaica. They were highly motivated people and instilled that motivation in their son. Mr. Llewellyn joined the United States Army at the age of sixteen, was made company commander by nineteen, and left the service at twenty-one whereupon he opened a retail store in Harlem. He operated this store and attended college at the same time, earning a Bachelor’s degree from The City University of New York (CUNY). He received his juris doctor from New York Law School in 1960 and also earned an M.B.A. degree at Columbia University, and a degree in public administration at New York University. He has been the recipient of over ten honorary doctorate degrees, including his undergraduate alma mater.

As a young African American in the 1960’s, Mr. Llewellyn turned to government and politics, believing that these avenues would offer him a better chance for career advancement. He worked in the District Attorney’s office in Manhattan from 1960 to 1962. In 1965, he became Regional Director of Region II of the United States Small Business Administration, and in 1967, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Housing for the City of New York.

In 1969, Mr. Llewellyn bought Fedco Foods Corporation, a chain of ten food stores in the South Bronx with gross sales of $18,000,000 annually. By 1984, when he sold Fedco, it had become the nation’s largest minority-owned retail business with 29 supermarkets, 900 employees, and annual gross revenues of $100,000,000. During this period, he also served as Chairman of Freedom National Bank.

In 1977, President Carter appointed Mr. Llewellyn as President of OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation). With the rank of U.S. Ambassador at large, Mr. Llewellyn held this position from 1977 through 1981. In 1983, he purchased The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, and in 1988, the Coca-Cola bottling operations in Wilmington, Delaware, of which he remains Chairman and the majority stockholder. In 1986, Mr. Llewellyn became the principal stockholder and Chairman of the ABC television network affiliate in Buffalo, New York. From 1989 through 1994, he served as the Chairman of Garden State Cablevision, Inc.

Mr. Llewellyn was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiation (ACTPN). He also serves on the Board of the Fund for Large Enterprises in Russia (FLER) and is currently Chairman of the United States Small Business Administration Advisory Council.