Just before spring break, the senior class officers sent out an e-mail informing the class of 2011 that their Commencement speaker will be Majora Carter. Carter, who works as an environmental justice advocate in New York City’s South Bronx, is the president of her own economic consulting firm, Majora Carter Group L.L.C. and founded a non-profit called Sustainable South Bronx.
Senior class Treasurer Tomi Olotu said that choosing a Commencement speaker was a long process, involving narrowing down the initial list of potential speakers from 50 to, eventually, five.
“We did the voting over two terms,” Olotu said. “We didn’t just want to pick a random, easy person to get.”
Olotu thinks Carter will be a great fit for the class of 2011.
“I think everything she does represents passion and commitment,” Olotu said. “I really wanted Majora.”
“I’m glad it’s not another politician I know nothing about,” senior Nicole McCabe said.
A graduate of Wesleyan University in 1988 as well as New York University in 1997, Carter has worked on such projects as park restoration, green job training programs and neighborhood improvement projects.
Carter was elected by the senior class at Knox. While last year’s announcement of the Commencement speaker did not arrive until the second week in May, this year there was little waiting.
After growing up in the South Bronx, Carter fought against a system that would have led to 40 percent of the municipal waste of New York City being brought to the South Bronx (cnn.com).
At Powershift 2007, an energy action coalition, Carter said, “If power plants, waste handling, chemical plants and transport systems were located in wealthy areas as quickly and easily as in poor areas, we would have had a clean, green economy decades ago” (cnn.com).
The response to Carter as a choice seems to be a positive one amongst seniors.
Senior Ariel Krietzman saw Carter speak at Bioneers, an annual conference focused on environmental sustainability.
“She was inspirational and awesome,” Krietzman. “At least a nice break from vague political speakers.”
“I’m glad she’s coming because the Green Revolution needed to happen 20 years ago and we need to get on top of that,” senior Ben Boor said. “Maybe the administration will be inspired.”
As the senior class officers narrowed down the list, they sent it back to the senior class for voting and told people to write their vote in order of preference.
“Some people took it seriously, some people didn’t,” Olotu said, referencing at least one write-in for Snoop Dogg.
“She [has] … made people take responsibility for their actions,” Olotu said about Carter’s efforts in the South Bronx. “You can feel her passion when she’s speaking.”
This year’s Commencement will be held on June 4.