First Honorary Degree Recipient : Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies. And be it gash or gold it will not come Again in this identical guise.

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks taught poetry and oversaw the poetry curriculum at Columbia College Chicago from 1963 to 1969. Brooks was the first african american author to win the Pulitzer Prize. Among her notable works are Annie Allen and A Street In Bronzeville. Her poetry deals with subjects of identity, politics, and the civil rights movement. Brooks is noted as Columbia’s first honorary degree recipient, all though awards were given by Columbia before 1964. In the following years, many notable and accomplished people were given the award. How many are you familiar with? Other well-known recipients include: Ralph Nader 1968

The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.

John Fischetti 1979

The blessed are the peacemakers.

Rosa Parks 1973

Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.

Sherman Alexie 1994

Sixty percent of all Indians live in urban areas, but nobody’s writing about them. They’re really an underrepresented population, and the ironic thing is very, very few of those we call Native American writers actually grew up on reservations, and yet most of their work is about reservations.

Buddy Guy 2006

Once I was checking to hotel and a couple saw my ring with Blues on it. They said, ‘You play blues. That music is so sad.’ I gave them tickets to the show, and they came up afterwards and said, ‘You didn’t play one sad song.’

Phil Ramone 2012

When you get to know an artist, you find out the things that have peeved them over the years, and it’s generally the stuff that has to do with somebody not wanting to do things their way in the studio.

A complete list of Columbia’s Honorary Degree Recipients can be found here.

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