Journalist and Freedom Rider Honored at Commencement

Fall 2010 Commencement SlideshowMore Photos

Journalist and civil rights advocate John Seigenthaler Sr. addressed Stetson University College of Law’s commencement ceremony on Dec. 18. Freedom Rider Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr. was also honored at the ceremony, which took place at the Pasadena Community Church.

Ninety-one J.D. students, including 22 students from the part-time program and five students from the J.D./M.B.A. program,  were presented as degree candidates  at Stetson Law’s commencement. Seven students received an LL.M. in elder law, and one student received an LL.M. in international law.

Seigenthaler is an award-winning journalist who also played a pivotal role in Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department. He was the founding editorial director of USA Today and long-time editor of the The Tennessean. His civil rights work led to his service as chief negotiator with the governor of Alabama during the Freedom Rides. He founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. He reminded the memebers of the  graduating class at Stetson Law to take their roles as advocates of justice seriously.

Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr., one of the original Freedom Riders, participated in the May 24, 1961 Greyhound Freedom Ride to Jackson, Miss., where he was arrested and sent to the Parchman Farm. He was expelled from Tennessee State University for participating in the Freedom Rides, later presented with a diploma. Patton works with Stetson Law and University of South Florida students enrolled in an annual constitutional and civil rights travel course.

Stetson University president Wendy Libby, Ph. D., presented the honorary doctor of laws at commencement to both John Seigenthaler Sr. and to Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr.

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Manager of Media Relations