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Wiley College to celebrate 150th anniversary and present honorary doctorate to Ms. Opal Lee

Tuesday, March 14 | 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

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Wiley College will celebrate with 150 years March 13-17, 2023. During this milestone celebration, Wiley College will honor Ms. Opal Lee ‘53, activist, Grandmother of Juneteenth, retired teacher, and counselor with an Honorary Degree. The presentation of this honor to Ms. Opal Lee ‘53 will serve as a highlight during the weeklong events commemorating the College’s Sesquicentennial. 

“Wiley College is excited to recognize Ms. Lee ’53 with our highest honor. Ms. Lee ‘53 is the epitome of how we invite our students and graduates to live out our mission of social good and leadership. She is the living example of what happens when one is committed to an idea. We are proud that she is a graduate of Wiley College and that we can bestow this honor upon her. Her commitment and work has made a significant contribution to the social change landscape, and must be recognized as many times as we can.” – Wiley College President & CEO Herman J. Felton, Jr., J.D., Ph.D.

Ms. Opal Lee ‘53 will be presented the Doctorate of Humane Letters on March 17, 2023, at 11:00 AM during the Sesquicentennial Founders Convocation in the Julius S. Scott, Jr. Chapel. On March 18, 2023, Wiley College will host a Fireside Chat featuring Ms. Opal Lee ‘53 and President & CEO Herman J. Felton, Jr. J.D., Ph.D. Events are open to the public.

Additional Sesquicentennial events include chapel service on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 at 11:00 AM. The Sesquicentennial Founders Chapel speaker will be Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins ‘72, Pastor Emeritus of the Greater Christ Baptist Church of Detroit, Michigan, and a former President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. On March 16, 2023 at 7:00 PM in Pemberton’s Hayes Auditorium, Wiley College students in the Freedom Film and Digital Project will premiere their film, 1700 Miles: Journey to Explore Freedom, based upon the stories and experiences of Wiley College students, Opal Lee, James Farmer and other Wiley College graduates. The community is also invited to the Celebration of Stars, a firework show, on March 17, 2023 at 7:30 PM in the Heman Sweatt Plaza. Wiley College’s celebration will close with the Sesquicentennial Founders Gala on March 18th at 6:00 PM. Individual tickets are $100 or $900 for a table. The event will include music from the local band, Total Choice.   


Tuesday, March 14
8:00 am - 5:00 pm