Dr. Yolanda Pierce will deliver Livingstone commencement address

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

By Laurie D. Willis

Livingstone College News Service

SALISBURY – A scholar who earned her degrees from Ivy League schools and is the director of the Center for Black Church Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary will deliver the 2016 commencement address at Livingstone College.

The Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce will address Livingstone graduates on May 7 inside Alumni Memorial Stadium. Commencement begins at 9 a.m. and will be moved to Varick Auditorium in the case of inclement weather.

Pierce, the Elmer G. Homrighausen Associate Professor of African-American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary, has a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University. She earned two masters degrees from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in English, also from Cornell. Pierce’s academic and teaching interests include African-American Religious History, Womanist Theology and Literature and Religion.

Her most recent book, “Hell without Fires: Slavery, Christianity & the African-American Spiritual Narrative,” and her forthcoming book, “Religious Ecstasy & African-American Cultural Expression,” focus on the historical and contemporary significance of the African-American religious tradition. Pierce is an accomplished writer who has penned more than 40 critical essays and articles in academic and trade journals.

An ordained Christian minister, Pierce is also a dedicated mentor, community activist, board member of a foster care agency and a commentator for MSNBC and CNN. She is a member of various professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion and the Society for the Study of Black Religion.

Pierce has been a frequent guest on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC and is known for being candid when speaking about race in America, particularly when writing on her blog, Reflections of an Afro-Christian Scholar.

“We are proud and fortunate to have an intellect of such high acclaim to serve as our commencement speaker,” said Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. “Dr. Yolanda Pierce doesn’t mince words, and I am confident she will impart some sage and thought-provoking words of wisdom for our graduating seniors on May 7. Livingstone was founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, so it is highly apropos to have a speaker who truly understands the church, as it relates to African-Americans, to speak at commencement. We look forward to having her on our campus and to establishing a relationship with her.”

Approximately 110 students are expected to graduate from Livingstone College on May 7.

In keeping with tradition, the institution will also hold its “Golden Graduates” ceremony, which recognizes graduates who earned their degrees 50 years ago. The Golden Graduates dress in gold robes and, after the undergraduates receive their degrees, walk across the stage to receive certificates from Jenkins in what is always a highlight of commencement.

Also during commencement, Pierce and a few other individuals will be awarded honorary doctorate degrees.