This year’s Commencement Union Medal recipients will be Katie Cannon ’83 and C.T. Vivian. Both Cannon and Vivian will give a short charge to our graduates at Commencement. You can find short bios of both Cannon and Vivian below. Click the links to read more of their bios.
The first African-American woman ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Cannon focuses her work in the areas of Christian ethics, Womanist theology, and women in religion and society. She has lectured nationally on theological and ethical topics and is the author or editor of numerous articles and seven books including Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community and Black Womanist Ethics. Read more.
Union Professor Andrea White says of Dr. Cannon, “‘My fascination with words has no conscious beginning,’ writes Katie Cannon in Katie’s Canon. It is no wonder then that Dr. Cannon would spend a career supporting her thesis that the black women’s literary tradition is the best available repository for understanding womanist theological ethics. Not only did her groundbreaking work launch the entire enterprise of womanist Christian ethics, her innovative scholarship utterly reshaped the theoethical framework by foregrounding black women’s narratives. Katie Cannon performed an epistemic intervention for Christian ethics and everything has been permanently changed. What she has called Zora Neale Hurston, I would say of Dr. Cannon—she is a justice-making prophet of possibilities.”
In November 2013, Dr. Vivian was honored for his vision and leadership in the fight for justice when he was awarded this Nation’s highest civilian honor – The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among his many leadership roles, he has served on the board of the Center for Democratic Renewal and the National Voting Rights Museum. He currently Board Chair of BASIC Diversity, Inc., the Nation’s oldest diversity consulting firm. He has provided civil rights counsel to Presidents Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama, and he continues to lecture on racial justice and democracy throughout the world. Read more.
Union Professor Cornel West says of Dr. Vivan, “Reverend CT Vivian is a spiritual giant, moral titan, and a long distance runner in the struggle for freedom.”